Filed under: Gender equality Social inclusion

Putting gender-based violence on the national agenda is of paramount concern for Uzbekistan, as there are few statistics on this issue and services for victims are scarce.

The subject of violence against women is taboo not only in society, but also in policy discussions by the nation’s leaders.

Across Uzbekistan, only a few shelters and non-governmental organizations, some unofficially, provide services for women and children who have been victims of violence.

That’s why we used the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women as an opportunity to get the word out about this subject. The global day is designed to do just that: Get people thinking and talking about an issue that is often unspoken of in day-to-day life.

UNDP collaborated with national partners on activities for the annual joint United Nations 16 Days of Activism campaign, From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World, which ran from 25 November to 10 December.

Campaign activities, including interactive games and quizzes, took place across all 14 regions of the country. Sports associations also played a large role in this year’s campaign by providing demonstrations of self-defence techniques.

We also updated our information booklet, which contains contact information for organizations that provide legal, social and psychological support to women in difficult situations.

For our staff, we developed a set of infographics in Russian and English. A different infographic was sent out daily throughout the 16-day campaign. These infographics used simple graphs and statistics to cover relevant topics, including reasons for getting married, issues that commonly trigger family conflict, types of violence, and support services available to victims.

We purposely chose to focus on Uzbekistan in order to emphasize that gender-based violence is not some foreign experience, but something that is happening in our own families.

The infographics include information on organizations that provide services to victims of violence, such as shelters, women’s centres, and ombuds offices, and quotes from colleagues providing their opinions on issues of gender-based violence.

To get everyone thinking about this important issue, colleagues were also invited to participate in discussions on the Staff Association Council board where we posted questions such as “What are the effects of domestic violence on children?” and “Should society intervene in cases of domestic violence? If so, to what extent?”

A lot of effort was put into both internal and external activities to mark the 2013 16 Days of Activism. But how do we measure the effect we had?

Will the number of attendees at events or number of Facebook ‘likes’ tell us? I don’t think so.

When it comes to changes in perceptions and values, numbers don’t tell the whole story, and it often takes a long time to see evidence of change.

In this case, softer indicators, such as staff reactions to the campaign and the frequency of gender issues coming up in both unofficial and official discussions can give us some idea about the effect the 16 Days of Activism have had on people’s perceptions of gender-based violence.

Following our activities this year, we received a great deal of positive feedback from staff members and started some important debates among colleagues. In the majority of our discussions, whether in weekly programme meetings, year-end reporting, or simply at  lunch, gender topics now pop up frequently – and most importantly, these issues are often raised not by gender team members, but by other colleagues who have become interested in the topic following the ‘16 Days of Activism’ campaign.

What are your ideas for getting people to talk about taboo subjects – in the office and with the public? We’d love to hear your ideas!

Discover our other infographics

  • Nurgul Asylbekova

    Dear Komilla, thank you for such interesting experience! You are always so creative in communication! UNDP Kyrgyzstan supported a study on economic costs of family violence and the figures just shocked us. We are using now the findings of the report for advocacting state budget allocation for prevention and better service provision for victims of GBV. I will share the report with Teamwork.

    • Komila Rakhimova

      Hi Nurgul! Thank you for your comment. Kyrgyzstan’s story on the gender front is always inspiring to hear. We are yet to reach that stage. But the report will be very useful for us too, to show the real costs in a country with similar historical background. So we can avoid the usual excuse of “this is a Western idea, research, data”. Looking forward to reading it and good luck with your important activities!

      • Michael

        No, No, No.. Cooking, Cleaning and Making Babies are not just Middle Eastern ideas. And this voting thing for women? That’s crazy. A wife needs to vote as her husband approves. Why ask her? She does not need to know how her husband cast her vote. Western ideas serve no purpose except to divide family income and make everybody broke.

  • Armine Hovhannisyan

    Hi, Komila! Thanks for this info. Beyond the content I also liked the format – very quick to grasp and comprehend. Thank you. Armine

  • Bishkek Feminist Collective SQ

    Thank you for initiating anti-violence efforts.

    Why infographic is only in English and Russian, but not in Uzbek or Tajik/Kyrgyz for border communities? It would be effective to have photos from Uzbekistan as well as local quotes. It is very hard to relate to them. I don’t think that this information would be so accessible by those who actually need it unless survivors of violence are not target group.

  • Komila Rakhimova

    Dear BFC, thank you for excellent comment and suggestion.

    With regards to the media products designed as part of national media campaign together with UN agencies:
    – flyer was available in Uzbek and even Karakalpak
    – the brochure was available in Russian only but it has limited narrative and mostly telephone numbers and organisation name, so that is usable for any language user.

    As for our set of infographics – originally these were targeting UN agencies as in-house awareness raising campaign. Nonetheless, a comment well taken. This year due to budget limitations we only had electronic versions of them and worked in-house on translations (both at 0 cost), thus Uzbek language and printing were not incorporated. Certainly for our future activities we will include Uzbek language as well.

    In terns of actual photos, it is very tricky and sensitive to have real images of victims and results of violence. So we decided to use pictures/icons instead.