Update: Watch the LIVE announcement of our commitment at the Clinton Global Initiative via the livestream on our website. We’re very pleased that actress and activist Maggie Gyllenhaal will be joining us for this important event.
I’m pleased to share with you that this Tuesday, September 21st, at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), we will announce our commitment to ending gender-based violence. WITNESS will partner with the network Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (Women’s Initiatives) to train 50 of its member groups to use video to document violence against women and girls living in armed conflict and under repressive governments. (To find out more about CGI, read this interview with their Director of Commitments, Marilia Bezerra.)
Why the focus on women and girls? Right now there is an epidemic in the world and it is called violence against women. Violence on the basis of gender is a form of discrimination that seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms. (We discuss more background to the issue in this post by our Program Director Sam Gregory and former colleague Violeta Krasnic.) Ensuring women can exercise their rights is beneficial not just for women themselves but also for their communities: women are an essential force in the fight against global poverty, violence and extremism.
At CGI Empowering Girls and Women is one of this year’s Action Areas. Joining CGI and grassroots organizations around the world, WITNESS believes that visual storytelling will strengthen a movement for change that is already underway. Christiane Amanpour put it this way at our annual benefit last November:
Throughout my career as a journalist, whether reporting from Bosnia, Rwanda, Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran, I cannot tell you how many times people ask me “Is it really that bad? Did that really happen to that woman?” And the truth is, yes. That’s why the concept of bearing witness, through images, through video documentation is incredibly important so that these women’s stories are not pushed to the margins.
Empowering women to bring their stories to decision-makers and supporters is a commitment we have made repeatedly and successfully over the years in partnership with human rights organizations around the world as shown in this video:
What’s new in our partnership with Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice is that we hope that the brave stories of many women, across multiple countries, will collectively catalyze decision makers to take action on violence against women and to create lasting change.
Video has the unique power to move people into action, and in the next 3 years, WITNESS is committing to making sure that women’s voices will be seen and heard where it matters. A woman with a video camera in her hands is a powerful voice. Join us in supporting this campaign!
If you’re on Twitter, you can stay current with all of our news from CGI by following us at @witnessorg and using / searching the hashtag #cgi2010