A special race "Acting for the Victims" was held in Irpin to mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign. The race was organized by the NGO @UA Experts at the initiative of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine and with the support of @United Nations in Ukraine.
"We are starting not only 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, we are starting an annual marathon. I hope that every year we will gather in the squares of Ukraine and the world to show citizens who need help that they can count on it and that we do not keep silent about crimes of violence," Olha Stefanishyna said at the opening of the race.
The official emphasized that since the beginning of the full-scale war, the issue of violence had gained a completely different understanding. It is no longer just about violence in civilian life. Today we are also talking about russian war crimes in Ukraine.
"Many of the residents of Irpin faced these crimes of violence during the war. Thousands of citizens who spoke out about the violence and sought support, and tens of thousands who could not find the courage to seek help. All of them will never return to the way they were before. The crimes of violence that we have experienced and witnessed are horrific crimes that are not customary to talk about, but everyone needs help," said Olha Stefanishyna.
About 1,500 people took part in the race. Among them were government officials, representatives of the deputy corps, heads of international organizations and diplomatic missions, public and cultural figures, as well as local residents of different ages.
"The fact that about 1,500 people have registered for the race today means that there are at least 1,500 times more opportunities to learn that the state is with its citizens, that there is help. That crimes of violence need to be talked about so that there is accountability, and eventually we can collectively survive the horror in which we live," the official said.
Olha Stefanishyna emphasized that there are 11 centers for assistance to survivors throughout the country, where every citizen can come and ask for advice, ask for help and receive such help.
The official emphasized the importance of supporting each other and solidarity with those who had experienced or were still facing violence.
"There is still no clear answer when the victory will come, but we have no other way. This victory will come for sure. To do this, we need to remain united, help each other and know that despite fatigue and sometimes despair, we must continue to fight," the official emphasized.
After the race was completed in Irpin, the baton was passed to other cities of Ukraine and representatives of the Ukrainian diaspora in the United States (Chicago). In particular, the baton from the capital region was taken up by Nizhyn, Vinnytsia, Khoroshiv, Kalush, Korosten, Mukachevo, Lubny, Kryvyi Rih, Dnipro, Lutsk, Ternopil, Uzhhorod, Lviv, and Kamianets-Podilsky.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Violence campaign has been held annually from November 25 to December 10 in more than 100 countries since 1991 to intensify joint efforts for the sake of a unifying goal: no alternative to counteracting all forms of violence.