Kayan’s 16 Days of Activism Campaign
In 2015, and for the first time, Kayan took part in the 16 Days of Activism against gender violence. Below is a summary of the activities we carried out.
16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign
Together with Kayan’s community organizers, Jusur organized and held a national rally, raising their voices against the murder of women. The rally was attended by some 200 women from Kayan’s local groups. The Jusur Forum women also took a leading and role and were instrumental in organizing the 16 Days of Activism, as they recruited audiences, and planned the logistics of the events. The 16 Days campaign was part of a global initiative and coincided with the November 25th International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Kayan’s 16 days campaign was titled “Enough, our silence is killing us.” The campaign started with a press release, and local women’s group members changed their profile picture to an image designed for the campaign. During the Jusur network meeting that fell during the campaign, the women enthusiastically shared stories from their localities about how the simple act of changing their profile pictures created a buzz in their villages. The campaign also featured a short video that illustrates the unbearable ease with which Arab women are murdered solely because they are women. The video was followed by daily intensive activities in the field, and included various public events and workshops for different audiences. The activities were carried out in 12 Arab villages, and included educational workshops for high school students in five schools, in addition to protest rallies in Majd El Krum, Qakab Abu El Heja (villages in the North of Israel), and Salem (in the Triangle area) and reaching more than 1,200 women and men through public events, workshops, and discussions. The activities had high rates of attendance, and a large presence of men and decision makers. For the women, having men and decision makers in attendance showed that the issue is being recognized by the society at large, which is a vast accomplishment, as at the beginning of the project the subject was taboo even for the members of Jusur. In three villages, Majd il Krum, Deir Hanna, and Arrabeh, local council members publicly declared that violence against women would be included in the local “city without violence” initiatives. This “spill over” effect was a significant development, as it shows how the issue is being incorporated onto the public agenda. One Jusur member from Isofiya, a Druze village, organized a workshop in a Druze religious school on the topic of violence against women. This activity would have been impossible without her efforts, as the Druze religious schools have previously been off limits to us.
In the framework of the campaign’s activities, the Jusur Forum held their quarterly network meeting, during which a workshop was given on the Security Barometer for Palestinian women, and discussed Palestinian women’s lack of safety and security in various fields, and effective strategies of work to change the situation. With the end of the campaign, we at Kayan are more motivated to continue and expand our work in the field of violence against women. We are happy to say that we are seeing more grassroots women raising their voices and their anger about violence against women. These women are not only speaking out, but are taking concrete actions to end violence against women.
Overall, the 16 Days of activism empowered the Jusur women and reinforced the connection between the national Forum and the local groups. As one Jusur member from Arrabeh stated, “Our work is what will make changes, by this campaign, by the buzz surrounding the campaign, by the intensity and quality of the events, this is how change will happen. We have a lot to continue on with from here, and we are all fully committed, as both Jusur, and as local groups.”