An ‘Orange Day’ Photo Shoot on End Violence Against Women Day (EVAW), followed by a Programme cum Arts Exhibit and today’s Human Rights training workshop for female Iraqi journalists – these are just some of the series of activities rolled out by the United Nations family in Iraq as its contribution to the global annual 16-day campaign against gender-based violence.
This year’s theme: ‘From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women.’
UN Iraq’s 16-day campaign started with the ‘Orange Day’ Photo Shoot on 25 November, the day officially designated by the UN General Assembly in 1999 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Converging for the Photo Shoot all garbed in orange were female and male staff members alike from UNAMI and UN agencies based in Iraq including UN Women, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNDP.
The UN Secretary-General’s “UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign” had earlier proclaimed the 25th of every month as Orange Day, with the color orange symbolizing the campaign to eliminate violence against women and girls.
Taking the opportunity on EVAW Day, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), appealed to Iraqi leaders to “take concrete steps to enact and enforce laws which prevent and respond to gender-based violence – including holding perpetrators accountable –, and to create a framework for better outcomes for women and communities.”
SRSG Mladenov called for a fundamental change in mindsets that have been allowing violence to continue, as he deplored in his EVAW Day message that in Iraq, “violence still intersects with nearly every facet of women’s lives, including at home, at school, in the workplace and in society,” even as the National Strategy on Combating Violence against Women for 2013-2017 had been endorsed several months earlier by the Council of Ministers in March 2013.