By Anca Clivet, Coordinator of the Education, Awareness & Capacity Building Unit
“Hope For Children” CRC Policy Center
First, I would like to thank you for being here. Not necessarily for reading these words, but
First, I would like to thank you for being here. Not necessarily for reading these words, but HERE ready to stand up for Gender Equality. You know, you are a “unique breed” of humans. Not because you are better, smarter, educated or even experts on gender equality. But because you are passionate about gender equality and ready to act on a daily basis. This unique species is unsettled, always moving and transforming their means of battle against Gender-based violence. Yet, its vision stays the same: an inclusive, equal, empathic, empowered and confident society.
I have been asked to share with you about the importance of raising awareness and educating young people on gender equality and gender stereotypes. Through the CONVEY project and its social media campaign “I say NO to Sexual Violence” we wanted to reach out, mainly to you, young people, to support you, highlight your rights, and equip you to combat gender stereotypes and empower you to live equally.
We also wanted to engage relevant stakeholders and people with influence, like your teachers, policy makers, youth workers and your parents.
This logo, “I say NO to Sexual Violence”, was displayed on all our dissemination material and in all the videos that have been created. The act of saying “NO to sexual violence” is complex, as it reflects both a belief and, at the same time, urges to take action: to speak up for yourself and for whoever might be a victim. It does not discriminate based on race, color, gender, age or religion. The same belief teaches you how you can stay safe and defend your friend or a stranger when in need.
I am not here to tell you how many people we reached through the social media campaign, when we excelled or when we had challenges. Yes, numbers matter but past statistics should not define our future actions and initiatives, no matter how positive or negative they are. Because every life matters, every child that gets to know the Underwear Rule from 3 years-old matters, every young person that knows their rights, every person that knows how to be safe, every young person that knows to respect matters. So, even if we worked for 2 years just to change or save the life of one single person, I declare myself delighted. Not because my goals are limited but because this changed life will unquestionably affect so many others.
We are here together at this final event to celebrate the hard work of the CONVEY project. Obstacles were many, but we overcame and succeeded in reaching out to so many people. Nonetheless, even if we are here to celebrate and rejoice together over this victory, now that the project comes to an end, our vision will have to continue, just in a different shape and form.
Yes, we learned from this project that prevention is key. It’s easier to prevent than to heal. And the testimonies of our survivors confirm this truth. However, gender inequality and gender-based violence affect everyone, not just the direct victims. These might start as an “innocent” gender-based assumption, as many call it. But the truth is that this assumption limits and deforms the reality of who you are and paves the path for inequality. And when inequality is perceived as a reality or something natural, then violence is justified in peoples’ minds, doors start shutting and people start living in the cages of their fears and traumas.
Sadly, we hear too often the words “but you are just a drop in the ocean, what difference does it make”. But let me tell you this: never underestimate the power of a drop of water when it hits the desert, never underestimate your value to complete what others started before you and what others will still be doing after you, like a single piece of a large puzzle. Every piece matters.
You might say “But I am not an expert on this topic”. Dear young people, I travelled and wrote this speech mainly for you, and it’s time to reveal another secret: This species that you are part of has superpowers.
You might ask yourself “how can I contribute?” The answer to this question lies within another, more personal question:
Ask yourself “what am I good at? In what do I excel?”
It might be writing, singing, painting, teaching, advocating, healing, encouraging, leadership, running, cooking, tailoring, building, communicating, comforting, storytelling…
This is your superpower. There lies your drop of water and your piece of the puzzle.
Are you good at singing? Sing about a world where different people respect each other and encourage young women to value themselves not by comparing with present trends in the pop culture.
Do you excel in writing? Then write and tell the world about your point of view on present gender inequalities.
Are you good at encouraging? Encourage young people to seek out positive models and follow their example.
Are you good at painting? I would really like to see an artist fighting to combat the sexualisation of women and girls in media.
Are you good at making a radio show? Voice out for the voiceless.
Are you a storyteller? Then narrate stories about girls that want to be astronauts, stories about boys that are sensitive, stories about mums that are supported to reach their dreams, stories about dads that find happiness in parenting and house chores.
The efforts that have been developed by CONVEY’s passionate team, and so many previous initiatives until now, will be dispersed if no one will take the baton in this rally race. And I am not referring or meaning that this is competition among genders on who is better. We do not fight against people, but against preconceptions, stereotypes, fragmented realities, structural and cultural inequalities, embedded belief system and attitudes that tell us that one gender is above the other. And we want to arrive to the reality where you equals me and me equals you, no matter my strengths or my weaknesses.
Although I am ready to repeat the same talk for as long as I can, I do really hope that this time it will be a forget-me-not speech, one that would make you go to someone who was not here today and ask him