Putting an end to child marriage
16 Days of Activism raising awareness on gender inequality in Lebanon
On the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), between 25 November and 10 December, the Lebanese Presidential Palace and the iconic Baalbek Temple were lit up in orange as part of the “Orange the World initiative”.
The UN in Lebanon and the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) launched a joint campaign to raise awareness on the consequences and implications of GBV and gender inequality in Lebanon. The main theme of the campaign was around advocating to end child marriage through the adoption of a law to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 years, as this form of GBV increases girls’ vulnerability and risks to domestic violence including physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
The online campaign with the hashtag #Bakkir3laya ran on UN social media platforms as well as on OCHA Lebanon Facebook page and Twitter account to reaffirm the need to have a law against Child marriage because it prevents children and adolescents from accessing their rights to safety, health, decision making, education, and right to play. In Lebanon, child marriage affects not just Syrian refugees but host communities as well. According to a report by UNICEF in 2016, six per cent of Lebanese women aged 20 to 24 were married by the age of 18. A study conducted by UNFPA, during the same year and covering some 2,400 refugee women and girls living in Western Bekaa, found that more than a third of those surveyed between the ages of 20 and 24 had been married before reaching age 18.
#HearMeToo: Speak up against violence against women and girls
For the same occasion, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in partnership with the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) organized a regional arts competition where Arab youth were invited to use the arts to address the theme “#HearMeToo: Speak up against violence against women and girls”. Kourken Papazian, a student at the Lebanese American University won the first prize, producing a 30- second video entitled ‘Covering up’. Through this video, Papazian aimed at sending a clear message to encourage women and girls to speak up and report violence, because it is the only way to tackle the problem. All over the world, around 650 million girls and women got married during their childhood; if measures are not taken soon, by 2030 an additional 150 million girls could suffer from child marriage.
The 16 days of activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge and address violence against women and girls launched every year since 1991, from 25 November – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women - to 10 December – Human Rights Day. Every year, the campaign benefits from those 16 days to increase highlight the importance of ending the violence against women and girls worldwide.