A Refugee Magazine Special Edition: 16 Days of Activism Against GBV

On the 25th of November, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence launched worldwide. Across the globe, there have been numerous acts from millions of people symbolizing their support for this essential cause. The Refugee Magazine is honoring the 16 Days of Activism with this special edition dedicated to the issue of early marriage. 

if levels of child marriages continued at the current rate, 39,000 girls under the age of 18 will be married daily in the coming years - that’s 14.2 million girls a year.
— UNICEF statement released 2013

All these children face serious danger to their physical and mental health as a result of being married at a young age than if they married later in life: girls under 15 are five times more likely to die during childbirth; child brides are at a higher level of risk of contracting HIV from their older husbands, and young girls under 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence. 

Containing interviews with victims and survivors of early marriage and GBV and those dedicated to ending it, this edition is a powerful collection of personal stories, facts, and figures that hope to continue the movement to end early marriage and Gender Based Violence worldwide.

To read the full edition of The Refugee Magazine, 16 Days of Activism Special, please click here.

The Refugee Magazine is now in its fifth year, and continues to entertain, inform, and give a voice to those living in the camps. If you'd like to read more then follow our Refugee Magazine Blog Series on our Stories page. 

And as always, if you'd like to support FilmAid's training and empowerment of local writers, filmmakers, producers and actors, you can donate here.

FilmAid and Every Mother Counts at The Bulgari

Porter Magazine 2014

Porter Magazine 2014

It is fundamental to work together to save each and every woman.

Statistics show that one woman dies every two minutes from complications during pregnancy and birth. This is why FilmAid was honored to join Christy Turlington Burns for Porter Magazine's event with Every Mother Counts at The Bulgari, to raise awareness of the vital need for the continued progress and preservation of maternal health. 

Driven by her own experience of pregnancy and giving birth, Christy founded Every Mother Counts with the aim of providing every mother with the same level of information and healthcare she had received when she needed it most. 

Stella and Sian speak at bulgari.JPG

A touching speech was given on behalf of FilmAid by FilmAid’s UK Chair, Sian Sutherland, and FilmAid’s Country Director for Kenya, Stella Suge. 

Emphasizing the common ground shared by the two organizations, Sian discussed Every Mother Counts and FilmAid’s important contributions to safeguarding women’s health and dignity by the provision of information and the giving of hope, life skills, and voices.


Stella spoke of her first-hand experience working on a FilmAid maternal health program based in two of the largest refugee camps in the world, Kakuma and Dadaab in Kenya. With over half a million people living as refugees in Kenya, and over half of these people being women, maternal health necessitates urgent action. Stella expressed that she had seen women die as a result of absence of knowledge and information, a situation that was complicated further by cultural issues relating to how women receive professional hospital treatment. In light of these experiences, FilmAid devised a program that included creating an informative film made by and for refugees. The film focussed on informing viewers of the critical need and benefits of maternal health, thus contributing to the ongoing welfare of mothers and thier children. 


Farida's Story: From Facilitator to Filmmaker in Kakuma Camp

“When people talk about film, they say it’s for men, especially in African culture. They think a woman can never hold a camera. People think film is only acting, but there are so many roles in filmmaking, and a woman can do anything if she has the opportunity to learn” Farida Naimana tells FilmAid in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. 

Farida, 23, who is originally from Burundi, was one FilmAid’s first students in Kakuma. A camp which is receiving record numbers of refugees for the second consecutive year. The camp was originally established in 1992 to serve Sudanese refugees, but has since expanded to serve people from Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Uganda, and Rwanda. Kakuma’s population is close to 125,000 but growing rapidly every year. 

Farida’s experience as a FilmAid student led her to taking on the role of Outreach Facilitator within the camp. FilmAid’s Outreach Facilitators are integral and unique, they work tirelessly to bring about community engagement and participation through various media and workshops.  Farida's day would involve meeting with diverse people across the camp and delivering programs or workshops in the midst of the dust storms and harsh desert environment of the camp. 

For Farida, the skills she gained as a Facilitator, meant she was eager to challenge herself further and enter the field of film production. She quickly joined our Filmmaker Training Program. Farida tells us, “I had to start from scratch when I moved to production. I did not know how to operate simple equipment like the camera and big computers. Now I am learning how to handle a camera, shoot, edit the videos and actually produce content”.

Farida’s story reveals how passion and creativity can be ignited through exposure to new opportunities like our Filmmaker Training Program. Many people living in refugee camps don't have the chance to learn new skills, and opportunities for expressing creativity are lacking. Farida not only rejects any stereotype suggesting that women cannot be involved in film, but she proves that talents can flourish in the most challenging places.

Want to know about how women benefit from our Filmmaker Training Program in Dadaab refugee camp? Click here

Engaging Men in the Fight Against Violence on Women in Kakuma

While official camp health statistics report low cases of Gender-Based Violence, mostly against women and girls in the Kakuma camp, it is widely recognized that a significant amount of unreported Gender-Based Violence continues to occur. It is on this backdrop that FilmAid and partner humanitarian agencies, among them UNHCRLutheran World FederationInternational Rescue CommitteeNorwegian Refugee Council and National Council of Churches of Kenya based in Kakuma refugee camp have organized a one day event to create awareness on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) against women and girls in the camp, focusing on engaging men in the fight against this outrageous act.

The event, dubbed “Do Good Feel Good” Campaign will be held at Malakal in Kakuma, bringing together men, women, girls and boys  from  Burundi, Congo, Somalia and Sudan communities to discuss the role of men in the fight against SGBV on women and girls, most of whom went through traumatizing situations in their war-torn countries and had to flee to seek refuge here. 

“The fight against GBV should involve both the victims and the perpetrators of the act,” said Eddie Musoke, Outreach Facilitator at FilmAid, Kakuma refugee camp.

According to a UNHCR report on gender-based violence, the thought of involving men in the fight against GBV is as result of the realization that the fight against this outrageous act can only be defeated by the involvement of both men and women in such campaigns. Living in unprotected and congested settlements such as refugee camps, women and girls are particularly exposed to sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) and in such environments, the perpetrators of this outrageous acts go unpunished due to weak justice system.

The Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC) report indicates that 90% of violence against women are perpetrated by men. Culture has been pointed out as the main contributor to violence against women as most men still subscribe to wife battering as a way of discipline. Alcoholism and financial insecurity among the men are the other reasons contributing to violence against women.

IRC reports, one out of every three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime. The International Rescue Committee helps survivors to heal, delivering care to victims of sexual assault, and by bringing women together for mutual support. Through innovative skills programs, IRC help women gain economic independence.

Event organizers have also lined-up fun-filled activities including; the first edition of the coveted Miss Malakal beauty pageant competitions, music performance by rising refugee artists including; King Moses, Smart and Bolingo and traditional dances.

The event is sponsored by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration comes as the world prepares to mark 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence starting November 25th to December 10th.

Voice of a Girl Child

This poem was written by 18yr old Kowsar Asad Warsame, a student of FilmAid's Youth Filmmaker Training Program in Dadaab refugee camp

Voice of a Girl Child

Ssshssh…! Listen
Do you hear that?
That is the voice of a girl child
A child who is a future teacher
A future doctor and a future pilot
If only my dreams are not shattered
I think of myself as a star
With my own passion of light
I can shine if given the opportunity
Opportunity to follow my brothers to school
Opportunity to grow up and learn more from the teachers
If only my dreams are not shattered
I think of myself as a giraffe
My sight set high
Big vision on big things
You don't have to marry me off to an old man
Just because you think school is not the right place for a girl
I need to go to school and pursue my goals
I think of myself as a live engine
Always going never slowing
Time is elapsing 
Let my education not be a hot spot
The old man is waiting for my hand in marriage
The old woman is waiting with a knife
I need to go to school and pursue my goals
I think of myself as a lion
To roar loud and be heard
You don't have to take me as your wife
Just because I am a beautiful girl
Instead teach me a mathematical formula
So that my dreams are not shattered
I think of myself as a star
I think of myself as a live engine
I think of myself as a giraffe
I think of myself as a lion
Dear teacher, parents and guardians
Give me the rights I am entitled to.

A chat with the author

Kowsar Asad Warsame, or honey as she is known to her friends, is an inspiration to those around her, using poetry and media as a tool for making change. Born in Dadaab refugee camp, from Somali origin, she began creative writing in 2010 after being given a writing assignment at school. ‘I never really thought much about writing poetry’, she says, ‘we used to recite poems in class, but I didn’t know that I could write them’.

For International Women’s Day in 2011, she was tasked again to write a piece. She came up with Voice of a Girl Child. ‘There was no specific inspiration’, she says, ‘the issues I talk about are real and happening for girls every day. Young girls are getting engaged and are not allowed to speak out. They do not know they have rights.’

Kowsar, one of 6 girls in the family, met FilmAid in 2011 and trained in the Youth Filmmaker Training program as well as in radio. She is also a regular contributor to The Refugee Newspaper that is produced by FilmAid and the refugee community in Dadaab.

Now, 18yrs old, Kowsar has left the camp following some challenges in her community. ‘I have made a few speeches to girls in the camp about the value of education and knowing your rights. Some people don’t like that I share these things.’ she says. Leaving her community however, has not stifled the spirit of this young woman.

Now finishing her class 8 final examinations, Kowsar wants to pursue a career in the arts or media. ‘These poems are for women and girls who need a voice, but also to help me express myself too’. Koswar is finishing her latest poem My girl child education is lost and hopes to share it with FilmAid once the final touches are in place.