Henda from Tunisia tells the UN about the power of Voices against Violence

Henda from Tunisia tells the UN about the power of Voices against Violence

In March 2015, during an event at the 59th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), a Tunisian Girl Guide shared her experience of WAGGGS' curriculum to end the violence.

"As I am walking onto the stage, a part of me is glad to have such an amazing opportunity to raise young women’s and girls’ voices, but the other part is shredded to pieces for girls and women around the world who are suffering from discrimination in their societies, in their communities, in the work place, at school and even within their homes.

They are deprived of access to their basic rights, such as education and good health care, and they live day in day out with violence or the fear of violence

In 2013, 53% of women in the world were exposed to physical or sexual violence! Why? Well, many factors play a part, but the most integral is simply because they are women! Yes, unfortunately even today women and girls are still routinely exposed to physical, sexual, domestic and verbal violence. And because girls face the double discrimination of their sex and age, they are even more vulnerable.

Today I am here to speak to you about what girls and young women, boys and young men around the world are doing to stop the violence.

Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world have recognized that we all, women and men, old and young, rich and poor, educated or not, have a role to play in helping to end these harmful stereotypes and discriminatory social norms and attitudes that lead to gender-based violence. And Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are doing this in the way they know best – through non-formal education.

122013_Tunisia_Henda demanding an end to violence

WAGGGS’ vision is for all girls and young women to be valued and take action to change the world. And in that spirit, we cannot ignore the “most pervasive” human rights violation in the world today.

Henda, Tunisia

Two years ago, at CSW 57, we launched our “Voices Against Violence” curriculum, which was created in partnership with UN Women and is part of our global advocacy campaign; Stop the Violence - speak out for girls’ rights. This curriculum is deployed in such a way that enables girls on the ground to be agents of change in their own communities. Our educational effort is aimed at young people, both girls and boys, and it empowers them to question gender stereotypes from a very young age and to combat the root causes of violence.

In 2013 I participated in an ACTIVATE event, which is a training workshop run by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts to prepare trainers and Leaders to roll out the Voices against Violence curriculum in their national context. I participated as a Guide Leader, so once I came back to Tunisia I used what I learned to deploy a national educational project on violence against women.

As a concrete example of this, we ran different workshops and trainings for girls and boys aged between 15 - 18 years old from all the regions of Tunisia about violence as the main subject. They learnt 2012_Tunisia_woman signing Stop the Violence posterhow important it is to be all united together against violence: for women and girls to be aware of their rights and for men and boys to see them as equals and to stop violating them. The young people advocated to end violence in their own regions and communities, including in their families, classrooms and scout groups.

60 girls and boys from different regions in Tunisia participated in Stop the Violence workshops and were excited to be part of such a project on a cause close to their hearts.

Each one of them was an ambassador in their community to raise awareness. More than 10 schools have been involved and contributed to educate young people to stop the violence. 

In addition to that, our scout organization added an informal training course for trainers about violence that they’ll cascade out later in their communities. More than 70 guides leaders took part in this training.

As an organization devoted to non-formal education, we believe that to stop violence, it is important to educate young people from an early age and to do it in a fun and participatory way, which allows them to learn in their own time and ask questions in a safe space.

For that, let’s all work together, each one playing their part to spread this spirit of awareness and educate our young guides, sisters, brothers, neighbors and cousins to be agents of change."

Watch Henda delivering her speech at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

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