Last week, to mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based abuse, Savera UK, Zonta Club London and supporters marched through Liverpool city centre in protest against ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage.
Ahead of the march there were speeches from Savera UK CEO and Founder, Afrah Qassim, Dianne Jeans from Zonta Club London and Merseyside PCC, Emily Spurrell, as well as the reading of Melika’s* story – a survivor supported by Savera UK.
After a moment of reflection, when the names of those lost to gender-based violence and ‘honour’-based abuse were read out, the march began, led by Movema’s stunning Sankofa Bird, performed by Angelina Able.
The Sankofa Bird is one of four birds from Movema’s ‘Taking Flight’ production, which have been inspired by their artists’ experiences of migration and informed by the refugee and asylum seeker communities with who they work.
‘Taking Flight’ explores birds’ and humans’ desire for freedom and flight, and the role of modern aeronautics to enable this, with the four symbolic birds to represent futuristic cyborgs, whose bodies are part aircraft, part bird, part human.
The concept of “Sankofa” is derived from King Adinkera of the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa. Visually and symbolically, “Sankofa” is expressed as a mythic bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolising the future) in its mouth.
It teaches us that we must go back to our roots in order to move forward. That is, we should reach back and gather the best of what our past has to teach us, so that we can achieve our full potential as we move forward. Whatever we have lost, forgotten, forgone, or been stripped of, can be reclaimed, revived, preserved, and perpetuated.
Movema’s Sankofa Bird combines the symbolism of “Sankofa” and the design of passenger aircraft and was selected to support the message of the march – one of belonging, overcoming struggles and adversity and freedom.
Hundreds of people were engaged by the march and performance, before the group joined the vigil for Liverpool’s Lost Women, led by Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service, Amadudu and RASA Merseyside, in a show of solidarity and commitment to tackling gender-based violence in the city and around the world.
The march marked the start of the annual global Orange the World campaign and start of the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence, which takes place between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls on 25th November and Human Rights Day on 10th December.
Several civic buildings and landmarks also illuminated orange in solidarity with the campaign, including the Liverpool Town Hall, the Cunard Building, St George’s Hall, World Museum in Liverpool, Greystone Footbridge in Knowsley, the Mersey Gateway Bridge in Halton, Merseyside Police Headquarters and Wallasey Town Hall in Wirral.
Savera UK’s campaign will continue throughout November and December, with the charity inviting people to do a #5KForThe5000 and help raise awareness and funds to help it continue its work campaigning, educating, and advocating for and supporting survivors: https://register.enthuse.com/ps/event/5KtoEndHBAFundraisingEvent
Savera UK and Zonta Club London’s “Orange the World” toolkit, which contains information, resources and ideas for speaking out against gender-based violence and abuse, can also be found here: https://www.saverauk.co.uk/orange-the-world-campaign/
*Melika is a pseudonym