Innovative campaign tackles soccer and violence against women together
During the FIFA World Cup, one million stickers that read “O valente não é violento” (“The brave are not violent”) are being distributed throughout Brazil. Each includes one of ten different soccer-related puns in Portuguese, which aim to educate soccer fans about the responsibility men should take to end violence against women and to combat gender stereotypes.
Across the 12 Brazilian host cities in five regions of the country, tens of thousands of people gather in ‘FanFests’ to watch the matches on large screens. Volunteers approach these fans with the stickers as part of “The brave are not violent” initiative. It was launched in 2013 in nine Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela), under the umbrella of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign, coordinated by UN Women on behalf of the UN System. The soccer-related campaign seeks to engage men in the fight to end violence against women and girls.
Across Brazil, gender stereotypes are still very prevalent and influence violent behaviour against women and girls. A recent study in the country revealed that 58 per cent of respondents thought that “if women knew how to behave properly, there would be fewer rapes” and 26 per cent said that “women who wear clothes that show their bodies deserve to be attacked.”
To give more visibility to the initiative during the World Cup – a time when several campaigns and brands vie for attention – UN Women Brazil joined forces with “Protect the Goal”, a UNAIDS campaign that installs trailers near the FanFests and conduct free HIV testing and distribution of male and female condoms and information, including, the “The brave are not violent” initiative stickers.
“I like the idea of using and distributing stickers like these,” says Manoella Mignone, one of the volunteers working at a Protect the Goal trailer in São Paulo (pop. 12 million), Brazil's most populous city. As she hands out the stickers, she asks people what they think of the sentences. Feedback is positive – several commend the slogan that says that men can laugh and cry even if it's not a game day, and others say they like a sticker asserting that violence against women and sexual abuse against children must take a red card.
“Many people have never stopped to think about these issues before, especially within this context, so it can help to raise awareness,” says Manoella.
André Silva helped distribute the initiative stickers and asked if he could also share them in his hometown, Águas Lindas, 50 km from the federal capital, in the state of Goiás. It has the ninth-highest rate of domestic violence in Brazil. “The materials I distributed were very well received; there weren´t any leftovers,” he says. “Working with the phrases related to soccer and the World Cup was very good for generating interest and curiosity among men.”
Nadine Gasman, Representative of UN Women in Brazil, believes that major sporting events represent a great opportunity to raise awareness of the need to combat violence against women and girls and to deconstruct gender stereotypes.
“While soccer is a passion for a good part of the Brazilian population, this is also a field in which there is a lot of violence among men. Women are represented as incapable of understanding soccer; their bodies are pictured as objects available to men, even if women do not consent. During the World Cup, these sexist representations become more exacerbated, but it happens all year-round in Brazil. There is much work to be done in this field,” she says.
In November 2013, “The Brave Is Not Violent” initiative was launched in Brazil during the final round of the Brazilian Soccer Championship. At the time, six of the biggest teams in the country entered the field holding a banner with the motto “The Brave Are Not Violent to Women”. The banner was televised nationwide. In December, during the International Women’s Soccer Tournament, the Women's National Soccer team also entered the field in every game of the competition with the banner of the campaign.
Post-World Cup, and for the second half of 2014, UN Women Brazil is already building new partnerships with the Ministry of Sports and the women soccer players to continue the campaign.