16 Days Of Activism: Community Leaders Address Gender-based Violence And Intolerance

16 Days Of Activism: Community Leaders Address Gender-based Violence And Intolerance

The British Council led Aawaz II programme organised its sixth learning and development forum, in Islamabad, to recognise the contributions of community leaders to address gender-based violence and intolerance. The forum brought together stakeholders including representatives from the British Council, British High Commission Islamabad, government organisations, civil society, and community leaders – to address gender-based violence through behaviour change interventions and community engagement.

The forum is part of a series of activities from Aawaz II to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based violence, focusing on changing behaviour towards violence against women, girls and transgender persons. Aawaz II provincial and downstream partners are organising different dialogue sessions and advocacy campaigns to make their communities safer and free from gender-based violence.

Dr Yasmin Zaidi, Aawaz II Team Lead, during her opening remarks said: "One in three women experience gender-based violence, globally. Aawaz II is addressing gender-based violence through its critical mass of more than 30,000 volunteers representing community-based structures in villages and tehsils across the 22 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. These community leaders are now working to address harmful practices such as gender-based violence and child marriage in their communities". She urged the participants to continue to share ideas and explore ways to change social norms to address gender-based violence beyond the 16 Days of Activism.”

Ms. Zoe Ware, Political Counsellor, British High Commission, Islamabad said: "Gender-based violence is a serious issue requiring action from all stakeholders. The FCDO is committed to efforts for promoting gender equality for the rights of women and girls. The Aawaz II programme has made significant contributions in addressing gender-based violence in local communities. The contributions and enthusiasms of community leaders and youth volunteers from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are a testament of the commitment of these individuals for developing gender-based violence free communities.”

The two-day learning and development forum includes panel discussions and stall exhibitions showcasing Aawaz II achievements and group work.

Aawaz II aims to create awareness and behaviour change and increase citizen-state engagement to promote change in the harmful practices of child marriage, gender-based violence, exclusion, exploitation and intolerance. The programme has reached over 30 million individuals with its interventions including communications campaigns on behaviour change.

The five-year long programme is managed by British Council with support from Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).