According to UN Women, 17% of women aged 18 to 75 in Kazakhstan experience physical and/or sexual violence within an intimate relationship. 21% experience psychological abuse. The addition of mandatory quarantine due to COVID-19 has resulted in an alarming increase in domestic violence, as some are forced to remain in unsafe homes.
The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has urged countries to tackle the “horrifying global surge in domestic violence” in their national response plans to the pandemic. However, traditional patriarchal norms and stereotypes continue to breed high levels of violence, silence the voices of young women, and hinder the fight for gender equality (UN News).
In 2020, the unexpected rise of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the disruption of lives across the world, provoking paralyzing fear and constant uncertainty.
Now more than ever is there a need for countries and communities to come together to listen and support one another in some of our darkest and most isolated times.
On June 27th, Footage Foundation (Footage) hosted an online seminar as part of its award-winning global program, Girl-talk-Girl, aimed to amplify the overlooked and unheard voices of young women. This digital storytelling program encourages young women to share their experiences to find strength and solidarity in a community that both connects and empowers them.
Recognized as the largest digital platform that allows women to share their stories on gender based violence, this initiative expanded to include Kazakhstan. This was made possible through a generous Public Diplomacy Program Award from the U.S. Consulate in Almaty, Kazakhstan and the support of local partner organization, Rodnik.
The stories from the young women in Kazakhstan were the heart and soul of the seminar.
They are rooted in lived experiences that cover topics from surviving human trafficking, sexual abuse, to finding freedom.
The event was a safe haven for the many feelings, thoughts, and emotions shared between the participants. For example, 19-year-old ‘A’ who partook in Girl-talk-Girl in Kazakhstan said,
“By sharing my story, I let go of shame and drew major conclusions. I am so grateful to the Girl-talk-Girl whole team.”
The digital launch of narratives from these brave young women will now join the growing collection of powerful stories of women from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, and Chile.
Moreover, the event brought together women from every corner of the world despite the pandemic challenging the feasibility of staying connected. From the U.S. to Hong Kong, the call featured Girl-talk-Girl participants and Footage members, past and present, all eager to welcome the young women from Kazakhstan to the community.
During the pandemic, Rodnik also expanded the project’s reach through a virtual flashmob, “Quarantine without Violence.” This remarkable awareness campaign garnered support and participation throughout Asia, Europe, and the U.S. and has been covered by regional and national news in Kazakhstan (such as in Turan Times and Ainews).
Although there are times when life seems uncertain and difficult to navigate, every woman deserves to own her story and have the power to control her narrative.
Through Girl-talk-Girl, Footage hopes to continue expanding this platform and community that not only emboldens the voices of young women, but allows them to ring with resonating echoes worldwide.
Click here to hear the latest stories from the brave young women in Kazakhstan!
A collaboration between Footage Foundation and the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Kazakhstan. Girl-talk-Girl is sponsored and supported by the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Kazakhstan.