ICMC Pakistan Celebrates the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign

Geneva, 11 December 2019 - With songs and dances, music, poetry and puppetry, refugees and artists launched the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” campaign in Islamabad on 25 November.

Studies suggest that eight out of ten Afghan women living in refugee camps in Pakistan have experienced some form of gender-based violence within their home. ICMC’s activities during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence aimed to stimulate action to end violence against women and girls in Pakistan, particularly among refugee communities. Photo: During the 16 Days’ opening ceremony, Afghan refugee children presented traditional dances and sung the National Anthems of Pakistan and Afghanistan. ©Samina Jamsheed/ICMC Held from 25 November to 10 December since 1991, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence bring together people and organizations from around the world, calling for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. The 2019 campaign theme is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape!”

The International Catholic Migration Commission in Pakistan celebrated the 16 Days through activities in Islamabad and other districts of the region. The activities aimed to stimulate action to end violence against women and girls in Pakistan, particularly among refugee communities.

Women and girls in refugee camps in Pakistan are at very high risk of gender-based violence. Studies suggest that eight out of ten Afghan women living in refugee camps in Pakistan have experienced some form of gender-based violence within their home.

During the 16 Days’ opening ceremony, Afghan refugee children presented traditional dances and sung the National Anthems of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Pakistan National Council of the Arts’ National Puppet Theater performed the first of a series of shows presented to ICMC beneficiaries and the Afghan refugee community in Pakistan during the 16 Days. The shows focus on themes such as education and protection.A group of refugee children unable to access proper instruments performed for the event’s guests, using their school chairs and drumsticks as percussion instruments. ICMC is exploring options to provide them with a professional music instructor. ©Samina Jamsheed/ICMC

During the event, ICMC announced that for the 2019-2020 school year, ten Afghan refugee children will be able to attend school through the private sponsorship program coordinated by ICMC. The program matches private Pakistani donors willing to pay a refugee child’s school fees with refugee children whose families cannot afford to send them to school.

A group of refugee children interested in learning music but unable to access proper instruments performed for the event’s guests, using their school chairs and drumsticks as percussion instruments. ICMC is currently exploring options to provide them with a professional instructor who would teach them music at school.

Ms. Rafeela Naz, Director of Education at the Ali Trust College, was the event’s guest of honor. The Ali Trust has pledged to support ICMC by providing scholarships for 50 refugee children in primary and secondary school. ICMC and the UN Refugee Agency team presented Ms. Naz with a shawl to honor her constant support and striving to make education accessible to all.

Mr. Raja Changez Sultan, an internationally acclaimed artist and writer, read “My Woman is All,” a poem he wrote for the occasion (see below). He also bought several photos taken by refugee students and sold at a stall during the event. The proceeds of these sales go to refugees, allowing them to support themselves. Both Mr. Sultan and Ms. Naz bought refugee students’ paintings from the event’s “Buy a Painting and Educate a Refugee” stall. The earnings from the sale of Ms. Naz’s painting will be used to support a refugee girl’s education at the Ali Trust College.


My Woman is All
A poem by Raja Changez Sultan

My woman is all the women of my earth!
My woman is the most wonderful flower
That ever took birth
An' my woman is so soft to touch an' hold -
I want to cover her from head to foot in gold!
An' my woman is always young!
An' my woman is the sweetest song
That's ever been sung!
An' my woman knows everything about love
'Cause my woman is made by the One above!
Why then is she always crying after each war?
Why are her sons always dying in each war?
Why is she perpetually hurt, an' beaten,
An' raped an' tortured an' bleeding?
An' the scars are there for all to see!
An' the scars are there for you an' me!
An' the ugliness makes us turn away
An' we see such travesty an' say -
She's our mother an' we make her cry!
She's our daughter an' we ask her why!
She's our sister so we let her suffer!
She's a wife an' so we bluff her!
My woman is all the women of my earth!
My woman is the most wonderful flower
That ever took birth
An' my woman is so soft to touch an' hold-

An' my woman is always young!
An' my woman is the sweetest song
That's ever been sung!
An' my woman knows everything about love
'Cause my woman is made by the One above!