16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

Wafa Dakwar, Medical Aid for Palestinians' (MAP’s) Senior Programme Officer in Lebanon, describes how MAP is helping to prevent and address gender-based violence in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon:

Every year and all over the world, between 25 November and 10 December the 16 Days of Activism campaign takes place towards preventing and eliminating gender-based violence (GBV). GBV remains a major problem worldwide, affecting one in three women in their lifetime. In the context of conflict and displacement GBV and other violations to women’s and girls’ rights become more common. MAP works through its various programmes in Lebanon to combat GBV and promote a culture where women and girls can participate on an equal basis in society and achieve their full potential.

MAP’s local partner Association Najdeh runs a multidimensional programme that aims to empower women, prevent GBV, and assist GBV survivors by offering them access to psychosocial support and counselling, protection and legal services and training. During this year’s 16 Days of Activism campaign, Association Najdeh organised community-based activities and events across seven Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, shedding light on the importance of women’s equal participation in public life- including economic, social, and political life.

Activities included testimonies of women who successfully challenged gender stereotypes and traditional gender roles. One woman spoke about her experience working as a taxi driver, a job usually done by men in Lebanon, to support her family. She described the challenges and ridicule she faced and overcame to become one of the most demanded taxi drivers in her area. There were also open days, interactive theatre, facilitated youth discussions on the topic, psychodrama activities, games and competitions, and an exhibition showing photos of female leaders throughout history, including Palestinians, to highlight their achievements. Despite the difficult circumstances and unstable security situation in Lebanon, the campaign successfully reached out to more than 1,100 women, men and youths.

“In the past, women avoided talking and expressing their opinions about this topic which is considered sensitive. Year after year I am seeing that women are more outspoken and eager to express their opinions about gender, gender-based violence and women’s rights. They want to encourage and empower other women,” said the GBV Social Worker in Tyre area when asked about the changes she has observed in women’s participation in the campaign. Women have also become more involved in advocacy activities related to their rights, for example, women’s committees took a key role in organising this year’s campaign and running some of its activities. In one camp, a women’s committee identified alleyways with poor lighting where risks of harassment are higher and improved the lighting. Women are now also vocal about their right to political participation, such as being included in decision making and in the leadership of political parties and camps’ committees.

“Barriers to women’s participation are not only societal but also related to legislation that disempowers Palestinian refugees in general and also women,” explained the Project Coordinator. Association Najdeh is working to change this situation through organising campaigns – in which women play lead roles - demanding basic rights for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon such as the “Right to work” campaign, too.

You can support our work with refugee women and Palestinian communities in Lebanon by donating today!

Keep up to date

Sign up for our newsletter to receive all the latest updates from our programmes, campaigns and fundraising appeals.