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Advancing the fight against Gender-based Violence

Updated: 6 days ago

Text by Donna Künzler, images from Kyra Luthi, France

The Breaking Silence Movement (BSM) Global Association held its global launch event on February 24, 2023 in Paris, France. The event marks the global expansion of the non-profit organization and highlighted the establishment of its multi-cultural Board of Directors and its response to fighting gender-based violence.

The BSM Board of Directors and guests from left to right: Mariella Camilleri, William Luthi, Demee Koch, Ndaba Mandela, Kyra Luthi, Madame Safiatou Barry (Ville de Paris, Direction de la jeuness et des sports), HE Junever Mahilum-West (Philippine Ambassador), Madame la Maire Emmanuelle Pierre-Marie (Major of Paris Arondissement 12), HE Carlos Inguanez (Maltese Ambassador), and yours truly

What exactly is Gender-based violence?

From the UNHCR’s website:

“Gender-Based violence refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms. Gender-based violence (GBV) is a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue. It is estimated that one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. During displacement and times of crisis, the threat of GBV significantly increases for women and girls.”

BSM was founded in 2010 by Kyra Luthi, a Filipina based in Paris and a GBV survivor. It started as a digital source of information on domestic and sexual violence, to conducting survivor weekly meetings with 15 to 30 attendees, and then activating the movement in Europe by joining discussions in EU and UN member states. As of today, it continues to get involved with the UN and UN Women through the Generation Equality Forum as an active Commitment Maker, and along with 196 organizations worldwide, is a signatory of The Compact for Women, Peace, Security, and Humanitarian Action. Its mission is to make progress accessible to GBV survivors through its GVB Programming initiatives collectively known as its Pillars of Impact.

Kyra Luthi - Founder and President of BSM Global Association

The UNCHR defines GBV programming as a toolkit to prevent, mitigate, and respond to GBV. Its main purpose is to reduce the risks of GBV in all sectors of all types of organisations and communities.

Among the 7 Pillars of Impact, the four below are fully activated, and the fifth is assembled only during crisis response. They are the following:

1. BSM Academy

It is the capacity-building program that provides digital literacy and digital skills courses for FREE to foundations that take care of GBV survivors worldwide. It also offers a Qualification Certificate to course takers which entitles them to be prioritized by its partner organizations for continuing education, or internship opportunities. BSM is eyeing around 2,000 scholarships by the release of its global website.

2. Children’s book

Written by BSM’s founder, Kyra Luthi and illustrated by Ysabel Lindo, a Filipina educator, author, and artist based in Manila, Philippines, BSM published the children’s book “How To Keep My Body Healthy And Safe” for ages 3 and up and aims to normalize the awareness of private body parts, personal boundaries and consent as an important part of the household and classroom daily routine. BSM plans to partner with government institutions, schools, hospitals, and medical and family clinics for wider distribution. This book also celebrates diversity as it is available in different ethnicities, genders, and languages.

3. Corporate Governance on Sexual Harassment

To help companies reach their Sustainable Development Goals targets, BSM can provide consulting services for integrating workplace safety and security through its governance framework on sexual harassment.

4. BSM TV & Media

BSM will continue to produce shows that shine the light on the issue and perhaps emphasize the strength of survivors. It is currently discussing a Netflix documentary and a partnership with a global Cable TV Network.

5. Crisis Task Force

Every crisis, war, or natural disaster, represents a trigger to GBV, and BSM is available to respond. In the Philippines, BSM has distributed 10,000 medical hygiene kits, while in Ukraine, around 4,000, and now in the recent Turkey & Syria earthquake, it is getting in touch with its partner organizations in the region to participate in the rebuilding program.

The BSM Board is composed of multinational and multi-sectoral individuals that have the commitment to serve as the Pillars of Empowerment in order dutifully perform and deliver the GBV programming internationally according to the BSM vision, mission & values. In addition to the founder, the board is composed of Fideliz Apilado, Mariella Camilleri, Demee Koch, William Luthi, Ndaba Mandela, and yours truly.

BSM's Pillars of Empowerment from left to right: Ndaba Mandela, Kyra Luthi, Demee Koch, Mariella Camilleri, Donna Künzler, Fideliz Apilado, and William Luthi

BSM’s first fundraising event in 2023 is the Mandela Sports fest happening in Paris in the summer.

Find out more about BSM and how you can get involved here:

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