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We Can

We CAN change-maker in Sri Lanka

At a glance

The goal of the 'We Can' campaign is to end violence against women; undoing the shame and stigma attached to it and changing the social attitudes that support it.

Overview

'We Can' is making violence against women a public concern. It is undoing the shame and stigma attached to talking about it and triggering a desire among ordinary people to change social attitudes that support inequality and violence against women.

Aims

Launched in late 2004, with the goal of 'reducing the social acceptance of violence against women', the campaign started in six South Asian countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - but has since spread to Indonesia, the Netherlands and British Colombia in Canada.

The campaign focuses on domestic violence, which in South Asia comprises a wide range of forms of abuse, from preferential feeding of male children to honour killing.

Campaign messages:

  • That violence is never acceptable
  • That violence against women is a public, not a private matter
  • That everyone has the right to a life free from violence
  • That small actions can bring about big changes
  • That each one of us can find our own actions to end violence

Making change happen

The 'We Can' campaign is built on the premise that people change - and that people change people.  It works on the premise that when enough people embark upon a change they can influence and transform the institutions, communities, and society of which they are a part.

Working through 'Change Makers' -  ordinary women and men who commit to rejecting violence against women, changing themselves, and reaching out to influence ten other people around them - the Campaign has already reached out to tens of millions of people across South Asia.

It does not prescribe actions, but offers people an idea: that violence against women is not normal, not acceptable and must end. For women and men trapped in cycles of violence, this can be a transformative idea.

The campaign also works through partner organisations, or Allies, organised into local and national Alliances (currently over 3,000) who by September 2010 had registered the details of over three million Change Makers.

It aims to mobilise five million Change Makers. A significant and symbolic number: one for each one of the fifty million 'missing women' of South Asia, women who are not alive because of violence and discrimination committed against them.

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