From 25 November until today, 10 December, UNHCR and its partner Bosnia and Herzegovina Women’s Initiative (BHWI) marked the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence (GBV) by organizing activities for women and men in reception to centres engaging in interactive discussions about the causes and consequences of GBV, and how to identify, support and refer survivors.
Before the campaign started, as a part of a people-centred and participatory approach, UNHCR and BHWI organized focus group discussions to gather inputs from persons of concern about the themes that should be addressed during the 16 Days campaign and activities that they would consider interesting and helpful. These discussions were also organized to brainstorm about messages that women wanted to share during the 16 Days.
One of the participants highlighted the importance of upbringing by saying: “It is important for parents to raise their children, and specifically boys, to understand violence and how to prevent it”.
During the 16 Days of Activism, women in TRC Ušivak bravely hung scarfs up on a washing line every day with messages in different languages about gender equality, the behaviour of men, violence against women and other topics they wanted to mention. A few messages were:
“Let’s break the silence”, “Nous voulons le droit de voted” (We want the right to vote), “kadinlar cesur olalim” (Women, let’s be brave).
On 30 November, UNHCR participated in a meeting organized by the Agency for Gender Equality of the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and BHWI. The event aimed to identify gaps and needs in supporting vulnerable migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees. One of the main gaps identified was the need for a Safe House for vulnerable populations in Sarajevo Canton.
In addition, throughout the 16 Days, focus group discussions with boys and men in TRC Blažuj were organized to improve understanding on GBV and what it entails, but also to share information and tools on how to recognize violence and combat it.
Today, on 10 December, we mark International Human Rights Day and at the same time the end of the 16 Days of Activism campaign 2021. Gender-based violence is a violation of basic human rights and UNHCR will continue – not only during the 16 Days, but throughout the year – its work to prevent, combat and provide support to survivors of GBV.