16 days to make girls heard: Day 1

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25 Novembre 2011

Today is the start of the 16 days campaign to end violence against women. WAGGGS is calling on Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world to take part in a “16 days to make girls heard” campaign. This week WAGGGS has been making girls heard by speaking out on ending violence against girls at two high-level events, involving girls and young women as leaders in ending the violence pandemic.

Pascaline with Ban Ki Moon at the UN 16 daysOn 23 November Pascaline Umulisa (right, with Ban Ki Moon), a Girl Guide from Rwanda, presented at the UN official observation of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. On the same day, Penelope Cooper, Director of the WAGGGS Europe Region, spoke at a public hearing in the European Parliament chaired by Mikael Gustafsson, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. 

Making girls heard at the UN

The UN event focused on the theme of “youth leadership in preventing and ending violence against women and girls”. Pascaline joined the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, UN Women executive director Michelle Bachelet and other panellists, to discuss the important role that young people are playing in bringing an end to violence against women and girls.

The UN Secretary-General began the day by outlining that violence against women and girls is ‘the most systematic and widely spread human-rights violation in this world. For too long it has been a silent epidemic’. He emphasised his commitment to ending violence against women and girls, especially through initiatives such as the UNiTE campaign, and his network of men leaders. He called on everyone to help create ‘healthy models of masculinity’ and emphasised the important role that youth leaders are playing, and should play, to end violence.

Michelle Bachelet said in her speech that violence against women and girls ‘is not inevitable and it can be prevented’. She said that now is the time to act on that. She outlined ‘the three Ps’ – prevention, protection and provision of services, and called on governments around the world to act on her 16 steps to end violence against women and girls. These sixteen steps include ‘working for and with young people as champions of change’.

Pascaline was one of the youth panellists presenting at the session. She spoke about the WAGGGS' “Stop the violence. Speak out for girls’ rights” campaign and the need for girls and young women to be empowered to lead change. She gave examples of what Girls Guides around the world, and particularly in Rwanda, are doing to ‘stop the violence’. She finished by outlining three points for action.

Pascaline's action points

  • All countries need to have a national action plan on violence against women, and these plans need to place the needs of girls and young women at their very centre.
  • Girls and young women need to be given comprehensive and accessible information on their rights and how to claim them no matter where they live and they need to be provided with safe spaces and services that are girl appropriate when they are survivors of violence.
  • International organizations, governments and donors need to recognise and invest in the important work we are conducting at grassroots level.

Pascaline finished by saying that ‘only the sky is the limit of what we can do if we are consulted, invested in and prioritised.’

Monique Coleman, moderator of the panel, UN Youth ambassador and actress, said after Pascaline’s speech that too often it is only problems that are spoken about but that ‘our 24-year-old panelist just gave us three solutions that I think we should all write down’!

You can hear more about Pascaline’s work to stop the violence by listening to her interview with UN Radio and by reading the recent Our World article

How you can take action!

If you’re inspired to also take action to stop the violence, add your voice to the campaign. We are aiming to collect 1,000 voices over the 16 days, so add yours now and find five friends that can do the same!

You can also download our suggestions for ways to take action during the 16 days campaign here.


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