Orange The World with Pledge United

Gender Based Violence is one of the most prevalent human rights violations in the world. Worldwide, it is estimated that 1 out of 3 women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. The Embassy of the Netherlands in Indonesia is fully committed to ending violence against women as the Netherlands prioritizes the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls. Every year from 25 November – 10 December the Orange the World campaign takes place: 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. For this year we are happy to #spreadtheword with Pledge United.

©Pledge United

Pledge United is an experimental football programme that uses football to make boys aware of the issues of sexism within Indonesia: understand the rights of women, what it is to be a man, and educate boys about treating women with respect and honour. At the end of the training program, the boys pledge to respect these rights. Furthermore, the programme is focused to encourage boys to stand up and speak out for the rights of women within their school, community and family. The Embassy supports this original approach. We need to engage boys, even at a young age, at which they are not yet affected by the constant daily stereotypes that plague gender..

Behind every statistic though is a story, a story of a boy who has been challenged and now is pledging to stand up for the change that is needed within Indonesia so girls can be empowered and have the same rights and opportunities as men. Acep (Bandung) was asked during the Bandung Pledge United Cup how Pledge United impacted him. His response: “You need to understand that for the last 5 years, I’ve seen my Dad beat my mum every week. I thought I’d be doing that too when I’m older. Now, I want to protect my mum, and my wife when I get one.”

One of the coaches from Bali was returning to his house in the Kampung. He went past a house and he heard two people fighting. He then realized it was a man beating his wife, and he stepped in protecting the woman. He probably saved the woman’s life. When he was asked why he intervened, his response was, ‘because of what I learnt in the Pledge United course.’

Andien a girl who goes to a school where Pledge United runs the programme, “In my opinion, after some of my friends joined the Pledge United programme, they are more respectful towards girls, no longer treating girls as they please. In fact, now they want to protect us from people who are trying to harass us. They no longer underestimate nor look down on us. The boys now help and support us instead, and that makes us feel safe and comfortable with them.”

Over 9000 teenage boys have joined and pledged, from 17 different cities within Indonesia. It is important to share this positive message, this positive pledge against gender based violence so that all men, boys, women and girls know once and for all: no more gender based violence. Gender equality should be the norm instead of a goal. If we do not address the root causes of violence, our efforts in eliminating it will be significantly less effective. Therefore, we must eliminate to come closer in achieving gender equality.