Young Voices Send a Message Against Gender-Based Violence

April 9, 2013


  • To highlight solutions from young people in South Asia, the World Bank held a contest, “What Will It Take to End Gender-Based Violence in South Asia?” Entries could be in the form of text messages, Tweets or emails.
  • More than 1,200 people aged 18-25 submitted entries, and a panel of World Bank experts picked 10 winners, who each will receive a portable video camera.
  • The winning messages will be displayed during an expert panel on ending gender-based violence at the World Bank’s spring meetings on April 18.

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.”

" 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. "

Uday Singh Karki, 21

Contest Winner from Nepal

“Gender-based violence is deeply rooted in societal norms but is interlinked with economic and institutional factors such as women’s access to paid employment and increased education for women as well as men," said Maria Correia, the World Bank's sector manager for social development in South Asia, another of the judges.

The other winning entries:

  • Diba Parwez, 18, Afghanistan: “Change in orthodox views, empowerment of females, imbuing righteous values in children, implementation of all constitutional laws for women.”
  • Kazi Sadia Yesmin, 21, Bangladesh: “Break the limit, create equal opportunity! Free & fair participation of women with men in every sphere will gradually end gender violence.”
  • Kelzang Wangmo, 21, Bhutan: "Educate young children, the future generations, about the importance of gender equality so that they acknowledge each other from a young age."
  • Vandana Rathore, 20, India: “Multi-sectoral approach: value-based education, better laws, speedy justice & rehabilitation & economic opportunities for victimized women.”
  • Bhaskar Jyoti Neog, 25, India: “Female education, opportunity to engage in economic activity, right to inherit and own assets and public discussion on gender issues.”
  • Sudha Subedi, 22, Nepal: “Stop discriminating while rearing children. Make your daughter educated, independent, confident. Teach your son to respect and value women.”
  • Wajeeha Mobeen, 21, Pakistan: “We need to change the thinking of the people. Change doesn't come just by formulating and imposing laws.”
  • Jeyarajah Sanjeyan, 24, Sri Lanka: “Developing public awareness of ‘zero tolerance toward gender-based violence,’ especially domestic violence.”

The winning messages will be displayed during a panel discussion on gender-based violence on April 18, during the World Bank’s spring meetings.

"By convening experts from the region, we hope to highlight policy solutions that can help reduce the scourge of gender-based violence in South Asia," said Martin Rama, the World Bank's chief economist for South Asia and the third judge.

"By reaching out to young people, including those in remote areas without Internet access, we are tapping into new ideas that could paint a new future for South Asia,” Guerrero said.