One Billion Rising Togo 2017 is focusing on the different forms of violence against women in Togo, legal process and how to address them in solidarity and with the involvement of men.
We have chosen this theme, which is to provide the necessary information on violence against women, because the ignorance of society on this subject is one of the problems which undermine the freedom and development of Togolese women and one of the limits to realizing their full potential in their community.
The first impact of the OBR campaign was the transfer of information to women leaders in the Plateau region communities. The direct result of this impact is the formation of a network of 38 women in the region who will relay information in their respective communities in order to involve more people in the struggle to stop violence against women. We have given them training on the various forms of violence that exist and the legal forms to obtain justice.
The second impact was the attention drawn from the authorities and organizations of the region towards the importance of acting in solidarity in order to stop the violence that endangers women, their families, their communities and all Country.
We have been able to work with the judicial institutions in the region in order to ensure that they have partners in the continuation of our activities which will require legal authority for appeals. We have already started to listen and counsel women who are victims of domestic violence. After the event we had two women who approached us to expose their situations of domestic violence and we sent them to our contact, a judge, who was one of our trainers. We therefore have a strong link with the justice system to help women victims of violence.
At the regional level, we were able to bring together 38 women to train them, about 200 people, including Peace Corps volunteers marched around the city of Atakpame. We were able to reach the young people of the city, especially the students of the CEG and Lycee (middle school and high school). We can say that we have a good network of people in the region with whom we can act in the community in general, in schools and in women’s groups in particular.
On the national level, we had the presence of the women leaders of another region of the capital of the country. They were the speakers at the event. They are now our networks in the capital for our future activities. They will relay the information in their respective organizations and collaborate with us for future activities.
The collaboration with other inspiring women, the other One Billion Rising organizers from other countries, was a big resource and will continue to be for our future actions in Togo.
Our strategy for our OBR campaign is to continue the fight against violence against women by strengthening the women’s network created by implementing follow-up activities with them. We will formalize the association Heritage Woman (Association Heritage Femme) who organized this event in order to link partnerships with the other national and international organizations in order to extend the action of OBR Togo. We will continue to conduct regular activities with various groups of people such as young people, women, men and especially people from peripheral areas who are very attached to traditional practices that are not always beneficial for women. We plan to organize One Billion Rising events each year and make it benefit the whole country.
The main creative and artistic idea we used for OBR Togo was the use of a traditional and local dance group that served to mobilize the population of the city. The population of Atakpame is very traditional and the performances of the traditional dances generally attract the population. So that was a way of getting people to come to awareness.
We had girls from the various middle school and high schools come together to participate in the One Billion Rising official dance and for the public sensitization.
We invited men as well to the public sensitization upon recommendation by our training participants.
We had the population of the city for the march and the sensitization.
We had the representative of the prefect come to support us and acknowledge what we are fighting for and the collaboration we are expecting from them for our next activities.
We had the traditional dance group come to present.
This is the first year of One Billion Rising Togo. We touched over so many people from the region. We can see that for next year, we can mobilized more people and have bigger impact because we have learned a lot from this year organizing. We are looking forward to seeing where OBR Togo will progress in the foreseeable future.
We are Rising in Togo because one of the most challenging issues we are facing is the educational system. From continual teacher strikes, corporal punishment, to incidents of teachers engaging in inappropriate relations with girls, and so forth, the issue of education in the country, especially for girls has been a hard one. In the last 5 years, the education system has been slipping downhill.
I will say access to good or better education for all and especially for girls should be advocated for. Teachers are not able to teach in good conditions, so they are holding strikes often in public schoolswhere most of poor kids go to school. This situation is threatening the kids’ future. Their future is uncertain. And even where there are schools, the way the education system is structured does not allow the students to have critical minds, be creative and beconfident individuals. So an action should be done to fight this situation to give a chance to all Togolese kid to have access to equal education opportunities and access to the education for all. If there is equal opportunity for the education for all, then girls will benefit from that and therefore assure their empowerment status for the future.
Already, the women we have trained are continuing to rise in solidarity in their communities. For OBR Togo throughout 2017, we plan to continue activities with the associations of local women in schools with to help impact the youth. And we believe we need men as partners. We need to stop making this just a women’s issue. VAW should be seen as a societal one.