A group of young activists is walking through the streets of Aileu Vila cheering, shouting and holding up signs. “Stop violence against women and girls”, they read, “Protect girls from violence” and “I stand with girls”. On their march against gender-based violence these young people want to make their voices heard. And they want to show that they matter in the fight against inequality, violence and sexual harassment.
We want to stop discrimination and stereotypes
As a part of the ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence’ the youth movement ‘Timor-Leste Youth for Peace’ has organized several activities aiming at ending gender discrimination which is still prevalent in Timor-Leste’s society. “We want to stop discrimination, we want to stop stereotypes and most importantly we want to stop that children are being raised with violence”, says 17-year-old Dementina, one of the participants at the march.
Youths can lead change
70 young people have joined the march which followed a youth conference and a day of social work. At the conference under the motto “youth connecting youth for a sustainable future” participants discussed what they as young people can do to end gender discrimination and how they can raise awareness about their issues.
With a big clean-up at the town center of Aileu vila, they got a lot of attention from citizens. “We do this activity in public, because that is also where sexual harassment happens. The streets are not safe and that’s why we chose to go out on the streets to get attention from the people”, explains Dementina.
The events have been supported by Plan International, Australian Aid, FADA and Timor Telecom. Fatima Soares, Programme Manager at Plan International Timor-Leste explains “It’s great that the youth group is taking the lead and organizing an event like this themselves. We trust youth to take a stand on important issues like gender-based violence. And they are proving that they can lead change.”
'16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence' is a global campaign to raise awareness about violence against women and girls and its impact on a their physical, psychological, social and spiritual well-being. The 16 Days of Activism begins on 25th November on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on December 10th International Human Rights Day.