Campaign to end violence against women should be every day, not just 18 days

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 13 December) — The series of events the past two weeks by the Commission on Human Rights – Region 9 (CHR-9) and partner organizations rallying for the control and prevention of Violence Against Women (VAW)  ended on Sunday, December 12, but CHR-9 Regional Director Judelyn Macapili emphasized that the human rights campaign should be every day, not just for 18 days.

The annual 18-day campaign from November 25 to December 12 usually brings together CHR-9 and its partners, the City Government of Zamboanga and non-government organization Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA), in their advocacy campaign in different communities around the city. This year has been different, as some of the activities were virtual and  done in selected numbers, said ZABIDA Executive Director Esperancita Hupida.

The country’s Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women (IACVAWC) adopted in 2016 the theme “VAW-free community starts with Me” for the 18-Day Campaign to End VAW, the same theme until 2021. According to the council, the theme “elevates the campaign to positive advocacy as it enjoins everyone to pursue the common vision of a community free from violence against women and girls, and highlights what can be done to achieve such.”

Macapili pointed out that the campaign “overlaps the celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace and the two celebratory events have the same core objectives, which is to end violence.”

The Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) is an annual celebration from the last Thursday of November to the first Wednesday of December.

The Mindanao Bishops-Ulama Conference initiated the MWOP in 1999, inspired by the annual Zamboanga City Week of Peace celebrations.

This year, the MWOP was held on November 25 to December 1. November 25 was also the start of the 18-day campaign to end VAW.

Macapili said the campaign for peace and ending VAW “must not end after the celebration of these two events, instead, it must continue all throughout the year simply because human rights will not be suspended after the celebration of these two events. And also, peace as our goal must be an everyday objective.”

Jose Manuel Mamauag, former human rights commissioner and director of ZABIDA’s board, who attended the activities, stressed that “there can never be peace without development, and there can never be development without peace. There can never peace and development without respect for human rights.”

ZABIDA with CHR-9 worked together in fighting for the human rights of indigenous people in Zamboanga City, leading to the strengthening of the Indigenous People’s organized groups in the city.

Jaafar Kimpa, a member of the Interreligious Solidary for Peace (ISP), shared that they worked initially for the identity of the IPs as their rights as human beings, their rights for government services, as citizens since birth, and “this is very crucial for us to move forward.”

Among the activities during the 18-day campaign against VAW, the celebration  for human rights and for peace, were the observance of Mindanao Week of Peace led by ZABIDA, a Fun Run initiated by CHR-9, anti-VAW advocacies by the two organizations, trainings for Barangay VAW Desk Focal Persons as capability building efforts with the Zamboanga City Gender and Advocacy Office under the City Mayor’s Office, and Ginhawa Wellness among barangays.  Members of the Federation of Zamboanga City Civil Society Organization (FZCCSO) led by president Juliet Tigo also joined the activities.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco in her recorded message urged everyone to “move forward,” and “to understand the barriers of communication, of religion.” (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)