United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) joined efforts with the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization of Migration (IOM), US Department of State (INL), European Union Delegation in Azerbaijan and USAID for the celebrations of the “16 Days of activism against gender based violence” campaign in Azerbaijan. Series of interrelated activities involving sportsmen, youth and decision-makers were carried out in the course of the campaign.

On November 21st the conference marking the official launch of “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign was organized by the State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and other partners for the action. The conference brought together the representatives of government agencies, diplomatic corps, civil society and media.

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Ms. Hijran Huseynova, Chairperson of State Committee of Family, Women and Children Affairs of Azerbaijan Republic, Mr. Ghulam Isaczai, Resident Coordinator of United Nations in Azerbaijan, and Mr. William R.Gill, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Azerbaijan, sent a video message to the population on November 25th , urging everyone to provide their inputs for preventing violence against women. The video message was extensively disseminated through social media portals and was viewed 10,105 times throughout campaign lifetime. “Education is an essential means of empowering women to eradicate gender based violence. To provide this government, civil society, international organizations and whole society should mobilize their efforts and support our initiatives” – said Ms. Hijran Huseynova, Chairperson of State Committee of Family, Women and Children Affairs of Azerbaijan Republic in video message.

 

The movie festival “Azerbaijani Family”, a joint initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the State Committee for Family, Woman and Children Affairs and the United Nations Population Fund represented yet another event held in the framework of this campaign on 29 November. Held since 2009, the festival featured films by both local and foreign film makers. The festival aims to preserve the traditions and universal values that are grounded in the respect to the elderly and women, as well as promote the culture of tolerance and peace in family relations.

“Violence is so endemic in any society across the world that many people accept this as a normal part of life. We must change this mindset. As one of the leading agencies advocating for promotion of gender equality and elimination of GBV we strive to ensure that women’s voices amplified through any accessible platform. Movies give us opportunity not only to hear these voices, but also to see the faces and emotions behind”- noted Mr. Farid Babayev, Assistant Representative of UNFPA Azerbaijan CO in his speech addressed to the guests of the festival.

In the course of the campaign Baku was branded with the campaign’s key visuals. The billboards installed across the city and the subway trains displayed the major slogan and messages of the campaign. Also the visitors of 11 ASAN centers (Azerbaijan's one-stop public service agencies) across the country had a chance to be alerted about forms of gender based violence and get leaflets with the contacts of the centers that are in a position to provide protection and support services to the victims of GBV.

 

Given that sport has historically played a valuable role in all civilizations, be it in the form of competitive sport, physical activity or play and is gradually recognized and used as a high-impact tool in humanitarian, development and peace-building efforts, the campaign organizers collaborated with national soccer league 

to reach a wider audience in disseminating vital message against gender based violence more effectively through awareness raising action prior to soccer match.

On November 29th, prior to the “Garabakh” FC – “Gabala” FC soccer match the players raised red card to tribunes and TV cameras to urge male audience to say No to gender based violence. Symbolizing penalty for offense in various sporting codes and seeking suspension from game, red cards were shown to all batterers and abusers. The message was clear: “if you commit gender based violence, then you get a red card and you are out of the game”. More than 88,000 people watched the game online and on TV with 14,000 watching the game from the tribunes during the performance.

 

 

 

To emphasize the linkages between the GBV and human rights the last performance within the campaign took place on the International Human Rights Day, December 10th. The organizers held a flash mob in one of the shopping malls of Baku to reach out to young population with message in more engaging and entertaining way. The flash mob brought attention to education problems of women and girls as a basic prerequisite for elimination of gender based violence. The tree symbolizing a woman as a stem of progress was installed at the center of shopping mall entrance hall. 

The paper leaves of the tree accommodated popular quotes of famous persons about women’s education and empowerment. At the very start of the flash mob, a young female violin player approached the tree and began to perform amazing classical music. Meanwhile, young ladies in black and white cloaks from various points of mall started to head to the tree and picked the leaves. After a pause they all threw off their cloaks and appeared in various outfits, symbolizing different professions – doctors, engineers, sportswomen, etc. The main message delivered to the audience was: sustainable development is possible with the educated and empowered women that are provided with all necessary resources and opportunities to realize their potential and contribute to the wellbeing of their respective societies and their country.