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  • Writer's pictureKiran Kaur

Voices of Somali Forced Migrant Women sharing their Gender Based Violence Stories

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

This year I'm working with the Living Refugee Archive and Naima Ismail,Founder of Somali Women’s Association in Malaysia, to support Somali refugee women to tell their Gender Based Violence (GBV) stories. We will post a story and photograph created by the women each day between the 25th November until the 10th December for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence.

You can see the 16 stories altogether here on this link: Somali Women's Voices

Naima Ismail, Founder of the Somali Women’s Association in Malaysia (SWAM), is a community focusing on health literacy and access to healthcare for refugee women. She started SWAM to provide emergency community support for vulnerable women, providing food support/aid to 360+ families in Kuala Lumpur. She was involved in counselling women with mental health issues and concerns increased by the COVID-19 crisis due to a lack of information and mental health support in the community. She further raised funds to support women financially in the delivery of the babies; antenatal & postnatal care. She has further provided a livelihood project for single mothers to create a financial support system to generate income due to unemployment caused by the pandemic. Currently, she acts as a woman’s community leader with the University of New South Wales in the Women and Girls At Risk (WAGAR) Project. Naima herself currently lives in Malaysia as a refugee.

Following my fieldwork in Malaysia for my PhD, I have been continuing collaboration with my former research participants. Speaking with Naima recently about GBV, we both wanted to support the upcoming 16 days campaign. In our conversation, we came up with the idea to find a way to show the experiences of Somali women in Kuala Lumpur through one paragraph and one photo.

Naima has been interviewing the women in her community to raise their voices and illustrate their stories of GBV. And, importantly asking them questions about how they want to be seen by the world.

Working together, we will present their stories and images they feel represents themselves, their experiences, and hopes for the future.

Their names have been changed and stories slightly edited for clarity. I tried to stay as close as possible to their words and experiences. It was a real challenge to my writing skills to place their voices above my words or grammar rules. Nevertheless, their stories are real. I hope as you read the stories in the next few weeks, you can see their voices come through. The emotions they convey have been made clear in their voices and images. The images were either chosen from copyright free archives or taken by the women themselves to express what they wish for the world to see and understand from their stories. I hope to convey how women’s choice in photos give life to their stories. The objects they chose have become their representative of their voices.

16 days GBV activism campaign

Please check the information below on the campaign;

‘The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

In support of this civil society initiative, the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign) calls for global actions to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, and share knowledge and innovations.

The global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which will run from 25 November to 10 December 2021, is “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”

The stories will be posted daily on the Living Refugee Archive and Migration and Asylum Network Facebook group. We hope you can join our campaign and support these women’s voices by sharing these stories on your networks and social media.

Take Part

Join the Migration and Asylum Network Facebook group to join in the dialogue.

Please (re)tweet us with the hashtags: #16Days #OrangeTheWorld #LRAvoices

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