Shifa Tauqir, UofMosaic Fellow
The 90-Day Challenge executive team with representatives from the Stephen Lewis Foundation and the Mosaic Institute
UofMosaic students concluded the “90-Day Challenge Against Gender-Based Violence in Conflict” on April 30th. This community service project was inspired by the discussions that took place at the 2014 Citizen Summit on Women and Armed Conflict, a UofMosaic student conference held at the University of Toronto in November of 2014.
In these 90 days, the student participating in the “90-Day Challenge” worked to raise awareness about gender-based violence around the world. They maintained an active social media presence for awareness-raising and to collect pledges in support of The International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict. They hosted a movie screening of the film India’s Daughter at the University of Toronto to spark a discussion on rape culture in the Indian subcontinent. At the film screening, students asked attendees to support The International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict’s call to demand that India endorse the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Students also explored the ways in which the issue of gender-based violence manifests itself in Canada. They participated in the 10th Annual Strawberry Ceremony for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, an event organized by a number of social justice organizations to demand a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. Additionally, the “90-Day Challenge” team at Ryerson University worked with Professor Sedaf Arat-Koc to include Amnesty International’s No More Stolen Sisters letter-writing campaign as a class assignment for the course entitled “Social Citizenship and Identity in Canada”. Professor Arat-Koc encouraged students to send these letters to the Prime Minister demanding “a comprehensive, coordinated, and well-resourced National Action Plan, created in collaboration with Indigenous women and girls, to stop the violence”.
Lastly, the leadership of “90-Day Challenge” visited the offices of the Stephen Lewis Foundation (SLF) in Toronto and learnt about that organization’s efforts to ameliorate issues of sexual violence and HIV/AIDS in Sub-Sharan Africa. As a way to show support for the work of the SLF, the students organized a bake sale at Ryerson University at the end of May to help raise funds for their work in Africa. They are also planning to host a panel discussion on gender-based violence in conflict in the fall of 2015 featuring representatives from the SLF. Please contact the student leaders through their Facebook page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to stay updated about future events.
The “90-Day Challenge” was a unique opportunity to start a conversation on our campuses about gender-based violence in conflict. Students from Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, and York University participated in “90-Day Challenge” events, also making this project an example of just how much students can achieve when they work together.
The “90-Day Challenge” was a community service project of the UofMosaic, the Mosaic Institute’s campus-based peace building program. The program delivers programming in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, and is made possible thanks to the generous financial support of the BMO Financial group.