Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Kyrgyzstan marks global 16-days campaign against gender-based violence

Date: Saturday, December 12, 2020

Bishkek's vice-mayor Aijan Chynybaeva and UN Women representative in Kyrgyzstan, Ulziisuren Jamsran. Photo: UN Women/Adilet Baktybekov

Bishkek Mayors’ office turns orange to bring attention to gender-based violence

Bishkek Mayor's Office supported the annual 16-day campaign against gender-based violence by flooding the building in orange lights from 25 November until 10 December, with an official launch ceremony held on day one. At the same time, the Vice-mayor of Bishkek city, Aijan Chynybaeva, met with the UN Women Representative in Kyrgyzstan, Ulziisuren Jamsran, to discuss further cooperation with UN agencies on addressing gender-based violence.

UN Women launched outdoor campaign to challenge social norms

Kyrgyzstan launched the 16-Day Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign on November 25, calling for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. The global campaign starts annually on the International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women, and continues until December 10, International Human Rights Day.

This year's UN campaign in Kyrgyzstan focused on three areas. The first of these was promoting a culture of “not being silent about violence”, challenging social norms that reinforce harmful practices and gender-based violence. Secondly, increasing the visibility of crisis centers and hotlines to strengthen the response to domestic violence, especially as demand for services during the COVID-19 crisis increased. And, finally, raising general awareness of gender equality to enhance women's participation in decision-making.

"My life depends on me a lot, thus my choices matter. I chose a life free of violence” – a bus top in Bishkek. Photo: UN Women/Nargiz Koshoibekova

As part of the UN Women campaign in Bishkek, outdoor advertisements began to appear at city bus stops. The main messages are aimed at changing society’s social norms and rejecting violence.

“Both negative and positive social norms coexist in society, which either exacerbate violence or promote solutions and the rights of women and girls,” said Ulziisuren Jamsran, the UN Women representative in Kyrgyzstan. “Often women themselves are blamed for the violence committed against them. Many family members and friends do not provide the help that a woman urgently needs at such critical times. The good news is that there are examples of women survivors of violence and their families, friends and members of society who defend the fundamental rights of everyone, especially women and girls. With outdoor advertising at bus stops, we tried to highlight all these issues and to focus on new social norms emanating from members of our society, which are the foundation of a strong and prosperous country, ” she said.

Messages included:

“My life depends on me a lot, thus my choices matter. I chose a life free of violence”

“True family is love, respect and mutual support. I chose to live in and nurture a true family”

“Regardless of what others think, I know my rights and responsibilities. This gives me self-esteem and self-fulfillment leading to a happy life”

“Violence against me is not just a private matter, thus I speak up to gain support and share my experience”

“Family is where all members are safe and free from fear and violence. Children continue this great tradition”

In total 40 bus stops in Bishkek city had banners/lightboxes/cityboxes with UN Women messages. Also, a QR-code was installed at these stops and billboards. These allow people to visit a site with further information about the UN Women 16-day campaign. You can visit the site here.

The banners were installed as part of the Spotlight initiative, a joint effort between the European Union and the United Nations in partnership with the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic.

In Kyrgyzstan, UN Women started a social media challenge with the hashtag “We are equal” (#БизТеңбиз).

UN Women social media challenge: “We are equal” (#БизТеңбиз)

Using influential sportspeople, the challenge targeted young boys and men in regional areas, who remained unreached until now. The messages of equality and standing up against gender-based violence were simplified to unity, family, discipline and kindness that sport teaches us.

The headliners of the challenge were:

Aibike Isaeva, Muay Thai champion. She talked about boys and girls having the same opportunities, using her own personal journey. “If girls are given the opportunity to pursue their dreams, we will be able to reach the highest levels!”

Famous influencer Nursultan Maynazarov appeared in a campaign video with his wife Jarkyn Abitkanova. Together they talked about mutual respect and support in the family. “Family is about love, respect and mutual support from both partners.”

Nurbek Kozhobekov, Traditional Kyrgyz wrestling champion, showed pictures of his family while talking about the good things sport taught him about mutual support and respect. “Sport is discipline, respect and striving for good! I want to teach my children the good qualities that I have learned in sports.”

World wrestling champion, Aisuluu Tynybekova, joined the challenge, and posted an archive video showcasing her wins from previous matches on her social media account. “Talented young female athletes are growing up in the gyms of our cities and small villages! This scene is gratifying, and we should all support them!”

The challenge was very well received, in total 105 people participated, including sportspeople and show business representatives. The challenge videos were viewed 367,419 times, with more than 2,000 comments and over 30,000 likes on Facebook and Instagram. Influencers, not only in Bishkek, but also famous personalities from Naryn and Osh participated.