Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dr. Touray: 1Billion Rising 2016 Calls For Change

“The [West Africa] region is inundated with all forms of violence ranging from FGM, early or forced marriage, rape, state impunity and the ravages of war with its gender dimensions,” she said. (Photo Credit: MSJoof/TNBES/October 2015)
The One Billion Rising (OBR) 2016 campaign calls for change: structural, systemic and long term change, Dr. Isatou Touray said on Monday when she presided over its launch.

Touray, a West Africa Regional Coordinator of the Campaign which is meant to end violence against women and girls, said it can be expressed in various ways and to include all issues and also specific enough to the needs communities want to highlight, raise and change.

Speaking at Gamcotrap’s offices in Kanifing on October 5, 2015, she said the debate about female genital mutilation and women’s rights is all about positive change. 

Major changes needed

“We have not yet changed the systems that perpetuate violence against women (VAW), therefore we must continue with the revolution,” she said. “We can deepen what it can mean, and escalate actions around it. Major changes are still needed particularly in ways of thinking and consciousness about violence against women issues.”

Touray, an executive director of Gamcotrap and the facilitator of the OBR in The Gambia, said “revolution is the most major thing we need.’

She said it allows for creative and artistic expressions, multi-sectoral involvement, and more importantly – provides a unique space to engage people from all walks of life.

She said in their bid to bring about greater respect for the rights of women and girls and zero tolerance for gender-based violence, The Gambia under the auspices of V-Day (14th February 2016) will join the rest of the world to amplify the voices of millions of women and girls suffering from one form of violence or the other.

West Africa inundated with all forms of violence

Dr. Touray said the sub-region is affected by various pandemics such as the Ebola crisis which started from Guinea, Sierra Leone to Liberia and a few other countries like Senegal, Mali and Nigeria etc.

She said while there is progress, a lot needs to be done. There is need for “our engagement towards total elimination of Ebola” in the region and globally. This is a revolution for all of us to engage with, she added.

“The region is inundated with all forms of violence ranging from FGM, early or forced marriage, rape, state impunity and the ravages of war with its gender dimensions,” she lamented.

She said a revolution is needed to change this situation for women in West Africa and the world.

Dr. Touray encouraged a group of young people attending the launch to rally people around to create awareness and amplify their voices, energies and connections to influence positive change.

Since these young men and women are familiar with their various contexts, she said they can call to accountability the various perpetrators about the plights of women and vulnerable groups.

Atrocities affecting women

She said: “…you can start your revolution… You can come together as a coalition, a small group of people with specific interests, or individuals and organizations to advocate on a common platform.

“You can involve all the interested groups irrespective of their orientation, women’s rights are human rights and zero tolerance to discrimination is our mantra.

“Let us give support to ourselves and others worldwide to call the attention of the whole world about the atrocities affecting more than 50% of the world’s population – women.”

The OBR seeks to address poverty, economic violence, climate and environmental plunder, migration, globalization, race, gender, impunity and militarization.

The 2016 OBR revolution is meant to enlarge, to deepen, to expand, to revolutionize the campaign to end violence against women and girls.

Stakeholders including government authorities are urged to “Listen! Act! And Rise for Justice!” - As campaigners “focus on highlighting, creating and envisioning new, brave and radical artistic initiatives to bring in the new revolutionary world of equality, dignity and freedom for all women and girls.”

Written by Modou S. Joof

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