From across South Asia, the entries poured in – by SMS, email, Twitter, and even a few by postal mail. Young people from seven countries submitted their ideas for ending gender-based violence, in the wake of recent incidents in the region that shocked the world and triggered popular outrage.
Entrants sent messages in nine different languages, and though they were limited to 140 characters, they packed powerful words into their messages. “Shed conventional femininity notions, spread gender sensitive-education, make women fiery and gritty, launch ’Safe Cities’ campaigns,” wrote Bhumika Billa, 18, from India. Billa said fear of violence affects her movements on a daily basis.
“Whenever I have to go out with my friends…my parents have to think twice and four times,” she said. A runner, she had to curtail her workouts because she was the only young female running alone on the track and felt unsafe.
"We received so many wonderful, passionate, and enthusiastic entries on this topic," said World Bank Vice President for South Asia Isabel Guerrero. "This shows that the issue touches many people in South Asia; men and women and especially young people who want to see a better place for them and their children."
"There has been a culture of silence on gender-based violence at all levels, from the policymakers to the victims themselves -- this must change," said Diarietou Gaye, the World Bank's country director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, one of three World Bank experts who judged the entries and picked the winning 10.
Uday Singh Karki, 21, from Nepal, won with this entry: “Government: Strict laws with implementation. Men: Education on gender equality and laws against its violation. Women: Inform about rights.”
In an interview, he said, “When I think about the gender inequality or gender-based violence, truly, I want to cry out loud, and lighten the heaviness in my heart because I am part of the community where a mother after much pain delivers a child but with the first breath of the child rises the question – the baby is a boy or a girl? And if the baby is a girl, her family neglects her from the first day of her life. In the coming days, inequality reflects on her education, health, opportunity, decision-making, in every aspect of her life. Finally she gets peace or justice after the last breath she takes. Being a part of this community, I am also responsible for this situation. But I want change, and yes, I want to start from myself.”