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Stamping out domestic violence

By Salome Modebadze
Wednesday, December 17
The United Nations Population Fund marked the end of the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence programme and International Human Rights day by holding a photo exhibition on women’s rights and a reception at Karvasla Hall on December 10, 2008.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence has been celebrated throughout the world since 1991. The organizers of the campaign specifically chose the dates to include November 25 (the International Day against Violence against Women) and December 10 (International Human Rights Day) within the period of the programme to emphasis that gender-based violence is a violation of human rights. Several other important dates which fall within its timeframe, such as November 29 (the International Day of Women’s Rights Defenders), December 1 (World AIDS Day) and December 6 (the commemoration of the Montreal Massacre) are also indicated during the event.

Over 2,000 organizations from 154 countries have participated in the campaign since 1991. The focus of the campaign differs each year. This year the 16 Days of Activism was coordinated by the United Nations Population Fund-implemented project “Combating Gender-Based Violence in South Caucasus,” in collaboration with Governmental and non-Governmental organizations working in the field of Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence in Georgia. The project is co-funded by the Royal Government of Norway.

The closing ceremony at Karvasla Hall was attended by all Governmental and non-Governmental bodies involved in the campaign. The official part of the evening included the award ceremony for the takers of the best photographs, who were given diplomas and cash prizes. The event was opened by H.E. Jon Ramberg, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Norway to the Republic of Azerbaijan and Georgia who expressed his gratitude to the “Combating Gender-Based Violence in the South Caucasus” project team and expressed his hope in the eradication of violence in the South Caucasus in near future. The Ambassador and all the other men present wore a white ribbon - the symbol of a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.

The Vice Speaker of Parliament Gigi Tsereteli addressed the guests on behalf of all men against violence and thanked the Norwegian Ambassador for the special support his Government gave to Georgia. “Jon Ramberg and the Government of Norway are our significant partners in different technical, financial and political matters. The GBV-SC project, co-funded by the Government of Norway and implemented by UNFPA, is an important means of finding wise solutions to existing problems. I hope that more and more people will become involved in project-related activities and together we will all contribute to the eradication of gender-based violence in Georgia. One day I hope to see a serious increase in the number of women represented in the Georgian Parliament too,” Tsereteli stated.

Tamar Khomasuridze, Chair of the UN Population Fund in Georgia, noted that the Combating Gender-Based Violence in the South Caucasus Project is a multi-pronged 3 year initiative funded by the UNFPA and the Government of Norway. “This project contributes to the national response to domestic violence in the countries of the Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The GBV-SC strengthens democratic governance in these three countries by promoting respect for human rights, gender equality and women’s participation,” stated Tamar Khomasuridze, Assistant Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Georgia. “From November 25 through December 10 over 50 campaign-related activities were held by different organisations and individuals covering various regions of Georgia. We hope that this closing ceremony will become a new forume for cooperation.” Baia Romelashvili, Deputy Public Defender, also urged both men and women to work together against violence and try to find harmony through the peculiarities of the two sexes.

Within the framework of the campaign the UNFPA-implemented project “Combating Gender-Based Violence in the South Caucasus” in Georgia organized various activities to raise awareness of gender rights issues. These included screenings of short documentary films on domestic and gender-based violence in Georgia, a conference on gender and family issues at the Tbilisi National Youth Palace, a TV talk show on domestic violence in Georgia, produced and aired on Imedi TV, and the photo contest on women’s rights. GBV-SC is being implemented in close cooperation with key government entities, NGOs and other organizations which will help advance efforts to build a GBV-free environment, empower women, and contribute to sustainable development and democracy in the region.