Yesterday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. On 17 December, 1999, the UN declared that November 25 should be a day when governments, international organizations and NGOs organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the problems and situations women face around the world, and to stimulate discussion about how we can help improve the future for women everywhere. Last year on November 25, current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the day and its relevance to the world today, saying:
“Millions of women and girls around the world are assaulted, beaten, raped, mutilated or even murdered in what constitutes appalling violations of their human rights. […] We must fundamentally challenge the culture of discrimination that allows violence to continue. On this International Day, I call on all governments to make good on their pledges to end all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world, and I urge all people to support this important goal.” (http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/)
It was the occasion for some of our Half Day School students to reflect on domestic abuse and share their ideas on this issue, which affects women and girls everywhere. Our DEPDC students created posters and banners that they felt best conveyed their feelings and thoughts about women who face violence. The students also partook in a march in Mae Sai’s main street, which regrouped the community and spread awareness of the abuses and violence that women all over the world suffer every day, because of their gender.
Violence towards women is often in connection with poverty, marginalization and lack of education, all of which help to create the circumstances in which women experience mistreatment and violation of their rights. No social issues are pleasant to discuss, but this in particular is one of those issues which many people would prefer not to think about, but which we must think about and discuss because it’s too important to ignore. With that in mind, we’d like to spend the rest of our time talking about how we strive to empower the women and girls of DEPDC and help give them the knowledge to keep themselves safe, and how you can get involved as well!
At Chiang Khong, Mae Chan and here at Mae Sai, we know that the girls of today are the women and leaders of tomorrow, so we’re working with them to help them change the paths of their futures. We educate and empower girls so they know about their rights; know how to deal with issues of violence and know that we are all equal. We then combine this with traditional and vocational education,human rights workshops and campaigns against domestic violence, so that the women of tomorrow not only know that they have the right to live freely and happily in whatever way they choose, but also that their education and training has made them aware of how to deal with the issue of violence against women. This training also enables them to become youth leaders in their own smaller communities, spreading awareness about the topics they learn about at DEPDC. It’s a privilege to work with them and their progress and happiness is a light that warms our hearts and shows us the way forward.
We are always carrying out our classes, workshops and seminars for teaching not only girls but boys as well that we are all equal members of the same human community. In their faces we see the landscape of a better future for everyone, and in their friendships, cooperation and play we see new hope for a lasting environment of peace and equality. If you would like to help, we are always accepting donations, we love to receive volunteer applications, and we deeply appreciate support from our friends who help us to spread our message. As always, thank you for reading and for taking an interest in important issues and the work we are doing to address them. Always remember that even though we are scattered far apart, we are a team, and when people help each other work for worthy causes, there is, as history shows us, no limit to what we can achieve.