Learning about VAW through puppets, puzzles and games

The Philippine Commission on Women makes learning about Violence Against Women (VAW) interactive and youth-friendly through the Anti-VAW Expo 2019, held from November 27 to 29, 2019 at the College of Fine Arts, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City.

The 3-day expo is one of the highlights of the 2019 18-Day Campaign to End Violence Against Women (VAW), with the theme “VAW-free Community Starts with Me”. It was launched through a short ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by PCW Deputy Executive Director Ms. Kristine Balmes, PCW Commissioner for Media and the Arts, Ms. Noreen Capili and PCW Commissioner for Science and Health Ms. Sandy Montano.

Over 300 participants from different national agencies, local government units, and organizations visited the Expo.

Every expo tour started with a briefing on the campaign, Violence Against Women, and the Expo, led by Ms. Honey Castro, Chief of PCW’s Corporate Affairs and Information Resource Management Division (CAIRMD).

With five interactive booths, the Expo raised awareness on VAW and anti-VAW laws and encouraged participants to commit to promoting a VAW-free Philippines.

The first booth, called the Pathways to a Safe Community, is patterned after the famous game, Snakes and Ladders. The participants enjoyed answering the questions on Safe Spaces Act and avoiding the different acts punishable under the new law, including sexual harassment in the streets and public spaces, workplace, educational and training institutions and online. The team that reaches the tile marked “Finish” wins the game.

The second booth featured a VAW-awareness show that highlights where and how VAW survivors can seek help through a puppet show with the characters of Aling Selya, Luisa and Miko.

The third booth highlighted a key aspect in the fight against VAW: knowing one’s rights protected under various laws. Here, the participants were asked to solve puzzles featuring these laws, including the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act (RA 9262),  the Anti-Rape Law (RA 8353), the Anti-Sexual Harassment Law (RA 7877), etc.

In the fourth booth, participants stood and took a picture as  part of the inclusive VAW-free community. This community is inclusive –  one where women, unhampered by violence and discrimination, enjoy equal opportunities to become change agents and to contribute to and benefit from national transformation.

Lastly, the participants joined the digital National #VAWfree Movement. With only a few clicks, they are now a part of the national commitment to end VAW.

With every booth visited, the participants got their “passports” stamped. Such passports, which are also handy IEC materials on VAW, became their key to getting souvenir items which include information materials on VAW.

18-Day Campaign to End VAW

The 18-Day Campaign to End VAW is anchored on the Philippine government’s goal of protecting the human rights of women and girls by upholding its commitment to address all forms of gender-based violence as enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Under the Republic Act 10398 or the Act declaring November 25 of every year as the National Consciousness Day for the Elimination of VAWC, government agencies are directed to raise awareness on the issue of violence and to free women and girls from its different forms.

Worldwide, the observance of this campaign starts on November 25, which is the International Day to Eliminate VAW up to December 10, which is the International Human Rights Day, to emphasize that VAW is a human rights violation. In 2002, the Philippine Government, through the Philippine Commission on Women and key stakeholders, joined the global campaign. In 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Proclamation 1172, extending the national campaign to 18 days, thereby including December 12, a historic date that marked the signing in the year 2000 of the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, to supplement the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crimes.

From 2016 to 2021, the campaign carries the theme “VAW-free community starts with Me”, which encourages everyone to contribute in the efforts to end VAW. This year’s campaign underscores the valuable role of individuals, especially the youth, in fighting violence against women and girls within various institutions.

The campaign is necessary because global estimates by the World Health Organization indicate that about 1 in 3 women (35%) worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence from intimate partner or non-partner in their lifetime. In the Philippines, the National Demographic Health Survey 2017 released by the Philippine Statistics Authority revealed that 1 in 4 Filipino women, aged 15-49, has experienced physical, emotional or sexual violence from their husband or partner.