The change-makers inspiring us

What Works was fortunate enough this week to spend a morning with a group of young activists, from across Asia and the Pacific, brought together by the United Nations Secretary General’s UNiTE campaign to End Violence Against Women in the Asia-Pacific, all committed to ensuring that the next generation of people grow up free from violence.

UNiTE has developed a handy toolkit for young activists working to end violence against women and girls. The Change-Makers, was developed by and for youth activists working in Asia and the Pacific, but provides easily adaptable group exercises, resources, and most importantly, a guiding narrative to start talking with other young people about gender, violence against women, healthy relationships and social change.

To create a world where no one experiences violence can feel like an overwhelmingly ambitious, even impossible goal at times. But, below are some words from young activists who are already making that world a reality, to keep you inspired and full of hope.

Khaili Sopian
Student activist
Malaysia

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Why is gender equality important to you?
The issue is so embedded in society, once you realise, you see that gender differences really affect every aspect of society, even when people don’t notice it. I’m interested in it because I am Malaysian, and not everyone notices that, but I want to be someone who stands to change that.

What would help young activists working in this area?
We need more attention. Politics, censorship, a whole lot of things work to shut down anything that goes against the norm, which then means more people don’t know or aren’t aware of this issue.

Nisrina Nadnifah
Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras)
Indonesia

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Why is gender equality important to you?
My mother was a single mother who experienced violence, and I’ve seen the affects of domestic violence on her and my life. So I think that by involving myself in a movement to prevent violence against women and girls, I could be the one to make a positive contribution to another, to end violence. I believe that we will live happily if we are all equal and make a peaceful world.

What would help young activists working in this area?
More role models. For example, in my country, people are really influenced by artists, singers, famous people who promote gender equity. It would be really helpful for us as activists to have more people make this issue popular.

Ahmad Sahroni
Aliasi Laki-Laki Baru and Indonesian Plan Parenthood Association
Indonesia

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Why is gender equality important to you?
It is personal for me, and I have also worked with perpetrators, providing counseling. Men have to change, because its about our culture, behaviours and about the mind. We need to change to make things equal between men and women so we are the same – we are all just humans.

What would help young activists working in this area?
Things like this toolkit are useful because it’s simple, and helps us to deliver information that can help young people to learn about new behaviours, and to learn about what equality is.

Amitabh Kumar
Centre for Social Research
India

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Why is gender equality important to you?
India is a very patriarchal society – like most – but there we can see it on the streets, and it does not take any prisoners and we are all affected by it. For me, when all of my relationships with women are faced with this type of social wall, I cannot be at peace with it. I also feel we need to respect and celebrate uniqueness, so that is why I work on gender, I believe we are all a little bit masculine, all a little bit feminine, and that we keep changing, so we must celebrate uniqueness.

What would help young activists working in this area?
More than government support or even funding, we need people to start questioning these fear campaigns around us. The media plays a big part in it, but we need people to stop being afraid of discussion. We live on this planet together, so it’s not helpful to make people be afraid of discussing things. Let them talk, let them choose.

 

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