[Lusaka, 25th November 2010] Today marks the beginning of the Annual “16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence” campaign across the world. This campaign is a global effort to draw attention and connect action and thought on the challenge of gender based violence experienced most frequently and intensely by women.
The silence shrouding violence against women in sport has painted a picture that the sport society is immune to Violence against Women; however, we are aware that this is not true. Despite the limitations in statistical evidence, anecdotal and experiential data tells us women in sport are at risk.
Although for a long time the sport sector has not addressed violence against women, there have been isolated interventions such as policies at International level by some international federations; these have not been grounded in the everyday realities of sport institutions and sport participants in our local context.
This year, NOWSPAR is focusing on raising awareness among the sport stakeholders of the need to examine the sport environment and the violence that women in sport experience.
In view of the National Theme: ‘Defining Gender Based Violence-The Voice of Civic, Religious and Traditional Leaders’, since sport institutions are comprised of people who are also part of other social institutions in society, it is vital that the cooperation across sectors is strengthened to provide reinforcement of information, messages and attitudes promoted to prevent Gender Based Violence.
In playing our role as a sector, we must address the environment which enables violence to manifest, for instance the limited opportunities, the limitations in female participation in leadership, unsafe facilities and limited monitoring of persons in authority such as coaches, managers, supervisors and other persons.
Our strategy is twofold, supporting the development of safe environments through policy development and empowerment of young women to engage with the issues and the stakeholders that affect them.
In light of this, we are promoting Guidelines for the Sport Sector on Preventing Gender Based Violence in Sport. These guidelines are being developed as a joint effort of NOWSPAR, Women Win and the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympics and Confederation of Sport (NIF). The guidelines are developed in consultation with a diversity of sectors as well as a number of foreign and local NGOs working in the field of human rights, sport, and women issues.
Under NOWSPAR’s ‘She Speaks For Herself’ programme, 25 Youth Sport Leaders are undergoing training as Advocates, these are drawn from various sport for development organizations in Zambia are developing skills to conduct advocacy within their organisations and across the sector on various issues affecting women and girls including harassment, access to facilities and sporting opportunities.
This campaign is a powerful platform for these young women to practice their skills and to engage with an issue that is critical to their wellbeing and empowerment.
The planned activities for the 16 Days focus on youth empowerment in advocacy skills, providing forums for young women to voice their concerns, mobilizing the sports sector to respond to violence against women in sport and connecting to the broader civil society, academic community and government on Violence Against Women policy, strategic and programme issues.
Despite the disconnect between the sport sector and the broader women’s and human rights movement in addressing violence against women, we need to be resolute in comprehensively and actively exploring the manifestations of violence that our women and girls in sport face. We should strengthen our ties with other actors to more effectively face the challenge of violence against women in all spheres of society.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is an international campaign that runs from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, International Human Rights Day and symbolically links gender violence and human rights issues.
Since 1991, more than 2,000 organizations in 156 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, World AIDS Day, December 2, International Day for the Abolition of Slavery and December 6, the anniversary of the 1989 “Montreal Massacre”.
NOWSPAR Advocacy is conducted under the Every Body Matters Programme with the generouse support of the Norwergian Olympic and Paralympic Committees and Confederation of Sport (NIF)