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16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence Regional Arts Competition

Beirut, Lebanon
Event Type: 

Marked annually from 25 November to 10 December, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence is a campaign that serves as a time to raise awareness of and increase momentum towards ending violence against women and girls worldwide.

Each year, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), in partnership with The Arab Institute for Women (AiW) at the Lebanese American University (LAU), marks the 16 Days of Activism with a social media campaign and regional youth arts competition centered around a chosen theme.

This year, ESCWA and AiW chose to focus on the impact of emergencies on women and girls for the campaign and the regional youth arts competition, with the theme of “Life in Times of Emergency.” 

In the Arab region, the year 2020 has witnessed several types of emergencies, from the COVID-19 pandemic, to chronic conflict and occupation, to natural disasters, to toxic explosions. While the campaign focused on gender-based violence, attention was also given to the wider ramifications of emergencies on the health, socio-economic situation, safety, and political participation of women and girls.

The competition was open to all youth in the Arab region under the age of 30 and ran from 25 October to 27 November 2020. To allow people to express themselves and to raise their voices in their own way, the contest was open to all art forms including painting, video, photography, poetry, music or any other form of art the participants felt addresses this year’s theme.

Winners were presented and showcased at a virtual event on Thursday, 10 December 2020. The virtual event was preceded by a webinar with experts and activists discussing in greater detail the gendered impact of emergencies on the lives of women and girls in the Arab region.

1st Place - Lynn Medlej

The victim is the witness

In most cases of mental and physical abuse, the victim is the only one to witness the violence, therefore it makes it difficult to seek for help.
The black fists forced on the feminine figure symbolize the violence and dominance of men inflicted on girls and women’s lives. The two red circles positioned on her chest are a symbol of her vulnerability and reflect the victim’s pain and agony. Furthermore, her hopelessness and passiveness are showed in her crossed legs.

2nd Place - Nanor Tashjian

Amid the Chaos

3rd Place - Alaa Misto

Urge to Fly


4th Place - Aya Hawash

“No land for two bodies in one, no exile on exile, in these small rooms”

“My Art focuses on Human, Memory and Political History and War. It reflects my view from Refugees, Women rights and challenges in the Arab world by taking a critical view of what happening to express human subconscious based on reality. I deconstruct Human s rights, dreams, thoughts and everyday life worries that are a part of our childhood and adult culture. I express their revolting thoughts and opinions by reflecting their subconscious, fears, feelings & visions through Conceptual Art.”

Poem category - Zeina Habib

“This Is Not Just a Bad Day”

I remember thinking it’s a bad day
I am laughing and crying, my body in tremors
Thinking back on that day
Being  just another bad day 
How many other women thought they were having a bad day
Their body’s sanctity invaded
Being just a bad day
I remember worrying about everyone else’s feelings and not mine
In the end it’s just another bad day
I have to make sure my loved ones are not angry or anxious
I have to make sure they know I’m ok
I have to make sure I never walk alone again in bright daylight
What was I wearing? Probably the wrong thing
I had music in my ears that’s why it happened
I should have been fully focused and not relaxed
No no no no no no
I can’t keep doing this
Letting all these women Go through all the “I’”’s
No more
Because this is not just a bad day
It’s a horror that should never have seen the day
You did not make it happen
Your clothes, your gender, your race your looks
All of these did not make it happen
You get to cry and scream and rage
You get to write and dance your pain away
That girl within you whose made herself small enough to fit in that closet
Sit next to her on the floor from the other side of that door and tell her
What happened is not a bad day it’s not normal and it’s not ok
You get to cry, you get to have your voice be heard
You get to have those you love hold you and listen
You get to scream on top of your lungs NO
You get to leave that closet
I will hold your hand so the fire from within
Helps light the torches of every woman sitting in the darkness of her closet
You are not alone
You are not broken
You were a victim of a crime
This is not your fault
Nothing about this is your fault
You are a survivor and a warrior with a light within
That can change the world of at least one woman
Who just needs to know SHE IS NOT ALONE
Your light will help light her fire
Your light will remind everyone to keep fighting
Because this is not just a bad day
This is a crime
And to this crime I say NO MORE.
By Zeina Habib


“I kept sharing my stories about being called a tomboy. My diaries with taxi drivers. I kept raising my voice with the words: I EXIST” 

Special mention - Selim Hassan

Ya Wad Ya Bet

“I kept sharing my stories about being called a tomboy. My diaries with taxi drivers. I kept raising my voice with the words: I EXIST”


Children’s Category - Christy Nassif

Mermaid’s Dream

“Mermaid’s dream, a melody composed by me in April. This piece inspires me to set goals, fight for my dreams, and have the courage to grab them. Every woman and girl, especially in the Arab world, should believe in their own universe just like an ambitious Mermaid. Every day is a new opportunity to make your dreams come true.”


About the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November to 10 December) is an annual campaign that serves as a time to raise awareness and increase momentum towards ending violence against women and girls worldwide.
Initiated in 1991, the campaign aimed to draw attention to violence against women as a human rights violation at a time when such violence was considered a private matter. Since this time, the campaign has gained international attention and observance, with several commemorative events occurring globally. The dates of the campaign are significant; 25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, while 10 December is International Human Rights Days and the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In the framework of the annual campaign, United Nations partners are encouraged to host events with local, national, regional and global women’s movements, survivor advocates and women rights’ defenders, and create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policymakers and the public at large. The orange color is a key theme unifying all activities, with buildings and landmarks lit and decorated in orange to bring global attention to the initiative.
About the partnership between ESCWA and LAU
ESCWA and The Arab Institute for Women (AiW) at LAU have a sustained and active collaboration in research, conferences and campaigns, including the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

To see previous 16 Days events, please visit:
16 Days 2018
16 Days 2017
16 Days 2016