Activists, feminists, and women’s rights organizations around the world concluded 16 days of events to contribute to the 2019 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. The campaign runs annually from the 25th of November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to the 10th of December (Human Rights Day).

This year, SIHA engaged with local partners to hold community dialogue events across the Horn of Africa Region, addressing a variety of issues relating to women’s rights, ranging from workplace sexual harassment, to prevention and risk mitigation strategies for GBV, to women’s engagement and participation in civic and political spaces, to CEDAW ratification (Sudan, and Somalia have yet to ratify), to SGBV services and referral networks, to GBV during migration. SIHA also held an Artivist Pop-up, a Facebook live panel discussion, and a Graduation Ceremony for the Sudanese women who completed the Breaking Gender Stereotypes vocational training program.

In partnership with Akina Mama wa Afrika, SIHA Network brought together a group of women working in the informal economy to participate in a conversation circle regarding issues of sexual harassment in the workplace, with a special focus on the specific vulnerabilities that come with working in the informal sector. The event cultivated a safe, women-only environment in which the women could share their experiences around sexual harassment while working in the informal economy in Uganda. The circle also sought to develop a joint advocacy plan to call for ratification of ILO’s new Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (C190) and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 (R206).
The Artivist Pop-up engaged in activism by combining different modes of art together in a transformative experience to create and elevate unique expressions of the movement to break the silence on violence against women and girls. Some of the activities featured in the pop-up were live painting, participant message-writing, film screening, drawing, cultural dance, and photography.
The Facebook live event aimed to convene a conversation on the urgency to break the culture of silence on sexual violence against women in a virtual space. The speakers included women representatives from a women street vendors’ cooperative, law enforcement, media, and a national women rights organization. The women speakers’ discussion on issues of sexual violence was enriched by the insights they brought from their distinct backgrounds, lived experiences and interventions.
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At the Graduation Ceremony in Khartoum, 100 young women were honoured for completing a vocational training program, which has prepared them to enter the workforce in male-dominated technical trade work as carpenters, mechanics, and electricians. The activist impact of what these young women achieved is evident in light of the fact that participation in public institution programs offering training in these trades continues to be reserved only for men in Sudan.

SIHA stands with the global community to elevate this year’s campaign theme: “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape!”

Great work has been achieved over these 16 days of focused activism; however, SIHA emphasizes the importance of continuing this important work.

SIHA recommends that governments in collaboration with civil society organizations throughout the Horn of Africa deepen their commitment to end all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination by:

• Ratifying the new ILO Convention and Recommendation
• Ratifying CEDAW (in the case of Somalia and Sudan)
• Ratifying the Maputo Protocol (in the case of Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia)
• Bringing national policies into harmony with the above human rights doctrines
• Sensitizing law enforcement and educational, judicial, medical, and legal staff to cultivate survivor-friendly environments, institutions, and mechanisms for reporting and prosecuting perpetrators of gender-based violence and discrimination