The Role of Youth in Advocating for Change to End Violence Against Women
Joint 3rd Prize in 22-24 age group
by Salma Amanda Latifa from Indonesia
There are many international days that we can celebrate to support and promote peace in the world. One of them is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, observed every year on November 25th. The day aims to raise awareness among the public about the violence experienced by women worldwide and to encourage efforts to end it. As a young person, I have various experiences that can inspire other young people to support and celebrate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Currently, I am involved in a community in my country that aims to help fellow women develop a growth mindset. In this community, we are not only guided by mentors to acquire general knowledge, but we also receive life skills that are important and useful for our future. As members of the community, my friends and I are often invited to monthly online meetings with different female speakers. Each speaker brings up topics that are beneficial for women, particularly regarding the steps to stop violence against women.
This experience has convinced me that education within the community can raise awareness among young people about how to end violence against women, teach life skills, and promote gender equality. It is important to note that community-based education that integrates social issues such as violence against women allows us as young people to gain a deep understanding of the negative impacts of such violence. Young people can start learning how to identify triggers, signs, and how to intervene. All of this empowers young people to become agents of change within their communities.
Community education provides a platform for young people to learn emotional management, healthy conflict resolution, and effective communication. By acquiring these skills, young people can help create healthy and safe relationships and environments, preventing violence against women within their communities.
Additionally, community education enables young people to learn about the importance of respecting women’s rights, eliminating discriminatory practices, and avoiding harmful gender stereotypes. As young people, we can actively participate in extracurricular activities organized by schools or universities, such as discussions or campaigns on gender equality, like the Girl Up community that promotes equality and the elimination of gender disparities.
Another action I have taken to support the eradication of violence against women is being part of event committees and participating in campaigns by Oky in my country. Oky is the world’s first menstrual tracking application for teenage girls, created by teenage girls themselves. Through my involvement in Oky’s activities and based on real-life experiences in my surroundings, I have learned that menstruation is still considered a taboo subject by a significant portion of society. This leads to women feeling ashamed, restricting their daily activities, and, in the worst cases, facing social ostracization. This can be referred to as social stigma, which ultimately leads to various forms of punishment, unfair norms, and verbal or physical violence.
Lack of knowledge about menstruation among women, including the menstrual cycle, reproductive health, and women’s rights related to menstruation, can give rise to myths, misunderstandings, or false beliefs about menstruation. Many countries still face challenges in accessing affordable and proper menstrual products. Many women cannot afford to buy the necessary sanitary pads or tampons, which can result in serious hygiene and health issues due to economic and social inequalities. This creates an environment that favors violence against women.
Therefore, a holistic approach to young people is necessary to eradicate social stigma, empower women, and ensure fair, affordable, and equal access to menstrual hygiene products. This allows women to feel safe, respected, and in control of their bodies without being subjected to violence or discrimination.
Another engaging activity I have participated in to support the elimination of violence against women is the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign. During this campaign, I created a comic that aimed to convey important messages about preventing violence against women using language that is easy to understand and visually appealing. The comic depicted various situations experienced by women and invited the community, especially young people, to join in the efforts to end violence against women. The short comic I created for the campaign was intended to inspire others to actively participate in the endeavor to stop violence against women and create a more equal and safe societal environment for everyone.
In conclusion, I firmly believe that every small activity or step we take to eliminate violence against women can inspire others to create real change and build a world that is safe, just, and equal for all women. As young people, we have the power to raise awareness, educate ourselves and others, challenge harmful norms, and advocate for the rights and well-being of women. By actively participating in communities, engaging in educational initiatives, and supporting campaigns, we can collectively contribute to the eradication of violence against women and the creation of a more inclusive and harmonious society.
World Health Organization. (2022, November 25). International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2022/11/25/default-calendar/international-day-to-eliminate-violence-against-women
UN Women. (2022, November). Push Forward: 10 Ways to End Violence against Women. Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/en/news-stories/feature-story/2022/11/push-forward-10-ways-to-end-violence-against-women
OKYApp. (n.d.). OKYApp. Retrieved from https://okyapp.info/id/