Celebrations for the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women, 25th November, kicked off the 16 Days of Activism campaign against sexual and gender-based violence in Shedder, Aw’bare and Kebribeyah Refugee Camps in Eastern Ethiopia. Speeches, music, traditional dances and dramas on GBV entertained the large assembled crowds. In deference to the 2011 theme of ‘Peace in the Home to Peace in the World’, UNHCR with IRC and the refugee community constructed Peace Tukels in each of the camps. The Peace Tukels, as with the traditional Somali pastoralist habitats found in the camps, are covered with a patchwork cloth. Messages from the community promoting positive change and ending violence against women were collected and adorned the patchwork coverings.
After the campaign comes to a close on 10th December for Human Rights Day, the Peace Tukels will be given over to the community for use for activities and meetings relating to gender equality and peace initiatives. The anti-Early Marriage Team in Shedder has already requested to host their meetings there on Tuesday evenings.
Events during the 16 Days of Activism are organized to target the whole community from pre-schoolers to the traditional and religious leaders. Poster and poetry competitions, football and volleyball games, quizzes and panel discussions challenging societal acceptance of FGM, Early Marriage and other harmful traditional practices will take place throughout the campaign. The Male Involvement groups are active, performing dramas and leading marches in the camps speaking out against rape and espousing the importance of keeping girls in school.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, 1st December, a candlelight walk will take place throughout the camps at 7 pm. The theme for 2011 is Getting to Zero; Zero New HIV Infections, Zero AIDS Related Deaths, and Zero Discrimination. Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development is the theme of this year’s International Day of Person’s with Disabilities on 3rd December. Fun activities such as wheelchair races will be combined with stronger messages to tackle issues of stigmatization in the community and accessibility. Human Rights Day will conclude the campaign on 10th December.