NOVEMBER 25 marks the start of the 18-day campaign on Violence Against Women (VAW) in the Philippines. This year, the Embassies of Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, as well as SheDecides Philippines, Filipino Freethinkers, Pinay Bike Commuter Community, Break the Cycle and Bikers’ United Movement will launch #ShareTheRoadWithHer for its sixth edition.
It will partner with the Quezon City government as host, together with its Gender and Development Office, Green Transport Office, as well as Department of Public Order and Safety, along with the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Quezon City Police District.
“For 2023, we wanted to be more ambitious with this important initiative to reach other cities and [local government units] in Metro Manila,” Ambassador Michel Parys of Belgium said, as he expressed hopes to partner with other LGUs in the future editions of the campaign.
Started by the Belgian Embassy in 2018 in observance of the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the initiative has evolved, and is becoming bigger than just a cycling event, but an active mobility event encompassing all forms of non-vehicular commute such as walking, scooting and skating, among others, with the common objective of raising awareness and making a stand against all forms of violence against women.
On the day of the event, participants will be riding out from Quezon City Hall Gate 2, around the Elliptical Road and Commonwealth Avenue wearing orange, the official color of the campaign worldwide.
As with the previous year of “Cycle to End VAW” under the initiative of Mayor Josefina Belmonte, the Quezon City government will be giving away bikes to 600 local community mothers as a means of promoting sustainable transportation and safe public spaces for women. The combined efforts of all partners to raise awareness on VAW aims to provide safe spaces for advocates and allies to share their own experiences and make a collective stand against harassment, violence and abuse based on gender.
Further, Decathlon Phils. (Pasig) will also be providing 15-percent discount vouchers to all participants who signed up online with #ShareTheRoadWithHer as a special partner to the event.
EU partners for gender action
AHEAD of the main activity, the Royal Danish Embassy will host a side-event: “Public Forum on Gender-Responsive Planning for Public Spaces and Mobility” on November 23 at Training Hall 1, New SURP Building of the University of the Philippines-Diliman’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. The forum will be a pivotal discussion, with esteemed speakers from organizations such as Cycling Embassy of Denmark, Break the Cycle Philippines, UP SURP, the Psychological Association of the Philippines, and the Philippine Commission on Women.
Denmark aims to explore the imperative of addressing gender inequality in public transport spaces through the lens of the Danish model of inclusive cycling culture, narratives from Filipina bikers, and essential policy recommendations for city planning. Interested participants may sign up via bit.ly/GenderAndMobility.
Meanwhile, Germany is funding this year the “Special Appeal of the International Committee of the Red Cross: ‘Addressing Sexual Violence.’” Through a multidisciplinary approach encompassing comprehensive mental health, psycho-social care, legal aid, and other survivor-centered services the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in the Philippines will provide various kinds of assistance for victims and survivors of sexual violence in conflict-affected areas, with a focus on those in the Visayas and Mindanao Regions.
As part of the work toward a #VAWFreePh, it will seek to better understand the existing referral pathways in the country, with a view to better facilitating and strengthening access to services for survivors of sexual violence.
“Women’s rights are human rights. Gender-based violence are an affront to these rights, and pose a serious threat to women’s health and lives. The burden to fight against gender-based violence does not fall solely on the shoulders of women and girls. We need the solidarity of everyone because gender inequality affects everyone, and is everybody’s responsibility,” Gender Champion of the European Union and Dutch ambassador Marielle Geraedts reiterated.
“[I] call on each and every person…to remember that the campaign doesn’t end this year,” she encouraged everyone. “We are part of a bigger movement to end violence by changing perspectives.”