Press Release

Dakar Film Festival Inaugurated to Fight for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

13 October 2006
Author: UNFPA

DAKAR, Senegal — Filmmakers from around the continent are being invited to submit their films and documentaries for a film festival devoted to ending violence against women in Africa.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the Senegalese Government, donors, NGOs, civil society and other partners are joining forces to sponsor the four-day festival beginning 23 November.

The festival coincides with 25 November, the “International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women,” which focuses attention on the alarming rise in gender-based violence (GBV) around the globe and recognizes efforts to rid societies of this scourge.

“Violence against women affects every country in Africa and throughout the world,” said Suzanne Maiga-Konate, UNFPA Representative in Senegal. “UNFPA and our partners are driven to work on this issue so that we can stop all forms of violence against women and girls. We want to engage all levels of society, from government ministers to religious leaders to the general public, so that, together, we can ultimately eliminate GBV.”

A study released in New York earlier this week by the United Nations Secretary-General found that “In all countries of the world, violence against women persists as a pervasive scourge, endangering women’s lives and violating their rights. Such violence also impoverishes families and communities, drains government resources and restricts economic development.”

The Dakar festival is being used to educate the public about GBV to raise awareness of the problem and help to eradicate it. Themes include GBV in conflict and post-conflict countries, domestic violence, female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/FGC) and vulnerability due to extreme poverty, which can force women into sex work. All these types of violence increase the risk that a woman may contract HIV.

Monetary prizes will be awarded to the top films, which will be judged on their potential to play a positive role in eliminating violence and reducing the stigmatization of its victims.

“The media is a powerful tool with which we can educate the public about the problem of violence against women in all its forms,” said Angela Walker, UNFPA’s Regional Information Advisor for Africa based in Dakar. “Seeing a film or a documentary is a very effective means of communicating these issues. Hopefully this festival will break the culture of silence surrounding violence against women and get people talking and committed to fighting the problem and finding a solution.”

Films and documentaries selected for the festival will be shown at various sites around the city including open-air locations for the public at large. Panel discussions, featuring African and international experts, will address each day’s theme. A media workshop will also be held in conjunction with the festival to train interested journalists on how to cover these sensitive subjects.

In December, the festival films and documentaries will be sent throughout Africa where they will be shown in other countries affected by GBV.

Submissions for the Dakar festival will be accepted through 10 November at the UNFPA Senegal Country Office. Submissions should be addressed to Alia Nankoe, UNFPA-Senegal, 19 Rue Parchappe, Immeuble Faycal, 3eme étage, B.P. 154, Dakar, Senegal.

***

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.

Contact Information:

Angela Walker, +221-508-0745, awalker@unfpa.org

Alia Nankoe, +221-453-3322, nankoe@unfpa.org 

Dr. Aboubakar Cisse, +221-889-6774, acisse@unfpa.org

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