This post originally appeared on my Advocacy Project Blogroll

The week started with a holiday, Flag Day, here in Argentina, but that didn’t hold us back from making the week a hit.  On Tuesday I accompanied my colleagues, Maria Pia Devoto and Maria Paula Cellone to a series of meetings with organizations that were identified as potentially important allies in the campaign.  One of the goals of the disarming domestic violence campaign is to raise awareness about armed domestic violence, and to draw the link between organizations working on so-called “women’s issues” and those working on disarmament in the country Argentina. 

Argentine Flag, Bike Stunts in the plaza

One of the ways that Asociacion Para Politicas Publicas approaches building these bridges is by meeting face to face with representatives from those organizations, talking with them about the campaign, and encouraging them to see the importance in drawing a link between small arms and domestic violence.  Meetings also provide an opportunity to involve these organizations in supporting the DDV campaign in future meetings, actions, and/or government lobbying, thereby developing a network of individuals and organizations committed to taking action on behalf of the campaign and strengthening the overall impact of the campaign.

Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign Poster

Disarming Domestic Violence Campaign Poster

The first meeting we took part in was with Andrea Moriño, Project Coordinator at Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer (Foundation for the Study and Research of Women, or FEIM).  FEIM was founded in 1989 to defend and advocate for women’s rights, and to improve the social, legal, political, economic, and health conditions of women across Argentina. While FEIM’s current work is mostly focused on women’s sexual and reproductive health, we were able to connect with their mission by speaking about armed domestic violence from the perspective of a women’s health framework.  By the end of our meeting, we had received a commitment from FEIM to further support the campaign by taking part in future meetings and actions, and APP feels confident that they can rely on FEIM to represent the campaign from the perspective of women’s health in the future.

Later that day we met with Maria Fabiana Loguzzo, Director of the Women’s Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Argentina, to share information about the DDV Campaign. They understood the need to link the issues of arms and domestic violence in a formal campaign and pledged their full support including participating in and promoting future campaign initiatives.  This includes gaining access to their vast network, where they will distribute information and encourage people to join in on future activities.
On Wednesday and Thursday, APP disseminated information about the “Disarming Domestic Violence” campaign to parliamentarians, journalists, university professors, and civil society organizations around Buenos Aires and Paula continued working hard on finalizing a 4-page campaign newsletter, which we planned to use and distribute in subsequent meetings and during the “Public Day of Distribution” later that week.

Meanwhile, National Deputy (equivalent to a member of the House of Representatives in the US) Luciano Fabris introduced a bill about the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence and the DDV campaign launch to raise awareness about the DDV campaign launch amongst parliamentarians and through the congress website. It was really wonderful to receive this level of visibility within the Argentine government, as one of the principle targets of the campaign is to affect change within both domestic violence and gun laws in Argentina and the region. Having this point of entry into the legislature, and public support from one member of congress will enable APP and the growing DDV campaign network to continue building upon this initial support.

DDV Campaign Materials

DDV Campaign Materials

On Friday Paula and I headed to the Callao subway stop in downtown Buenos Aires and set-up a table with all of the campaign materials. The materials included the DDV campaign “goodies” from IANSA (key chains, stickers, wristbands), and copies of the bright and shiny, newly color-printed 4-page newsletter which was filled with information about the campaign objectives, the link between armed and domestic violence, current laws in Argentina, and resources for victims and families of victims. This “Day of Distribution” was quite popular, and we spent the lunch hours sharing information and talking with people passing about the Week of Action and DDV campaign launch, in one of the busiest areas of downtown Buenos Aires.

Maria Paula shares campaign information with a Porteño

Maria Paula shares campaign information with a Porteño

Attempting to explain the campaign in my best Castellano

Attempting my best Castellano

We finished the day by meeting with experts at the National Council of Women, an Argentine governmental agency. We spent time discussing the launch of the campaign, sharing materials, and talking about future collaboration.  Susana Orcino, Norma Garbarini and Josephina Guerra, a specialist in Gender-based violence, were all very interested in the campaign and future collaboration. They agreed to promote the campaign on their website, share contacts, help to plan and participate in future campaign events.

"9 x Dia" 9 people are killed everyday in Argentina due to gun violence

"9 x Dia" Killed in Argentina due to gun violence

The Week of Action Against Gun Violence in Argentina culminated on Saturday, June 20, 2009 with a candle light vigil at the main plaza in La Plata, Buenos Aires.  The vigil was organized by representatives from all of the major groups and organizations that constitute the Argentinean disarmament network (Red Argentina para el Desarme) including APP. Representatives from Amnesty International were also in attendance. The vigil highlighted the statistic “9 per day” which is the number of people killed by gun violence in Argentina each day.  Vigil organizers used candles to spell out “9 x dia” across the plaza.  We also continued to distribute leaflets with information about the campaign and the week of action, took lots of photos, and will soon be sharing video footage from the event as well.

Vigil Poster: Melting Gun Candle

Vigil Poster: Light a flame, put out gunfire

For me, the vigil was a bittersweet ending to the successful week of action as there were several individuals taking part in the vigil who had been personally affected by deaths brought about by gun violence. It was a sobering and important reminder of the significance of these campaign efforts, as well as the consequences for not taking measures to prevent senseless violence. One man who is particularly active, is the father of a young man who was randomly shot and killed while walking down the street in a busy area of Buenos Aires. Another woman, the sister of another gun violence victim, was also in attendance, and the mood was solemn as they represented their grievances through this public action.

Mom, this candle went out

Burning Candle

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