Glimpses from Blue Umbrella Day 2024

6 May, 2024

Blue Umbrella Day: A Global Movement to Protect Boys from Sexual Violence

Blue Umbrella Day is Family For Every Child’s biggest global campaign that rallies communities, organisations, practitioners and governments around the world to better care for and protect boys and young men affected by sexual violence. As we look back over the past month, and this year’s Blue Umbrella Day, we asked our Senior Programme Advisor Rajiv Roy to share some reflections.

From humble beginnings to global impact

Five years ago, a small group of visionaries came together under a shared banner—a blue umbrella. Their mission was clear: to protect boys from the shadows of sexual violence. That seed sprouted into the Blue Umbrella Day (BUD) campaign, a beacon of hope that has now blossomed into a powerful global movement.

Fast-forward to 2024, and BUD stands tall with 26 member organisations of the Family alliance spanning 22 countries, supported by over 15 civil society organisations (CSOs) in seven countries beyond our membership network. However, this is not just about numbers; it is about seismic shifts in awareness and action. 

Local Leaders, Global Impact

From the bustling streets of Bangladesh to the sun-kissed plains of Kenya, and from the vibrant markets of Guatemala to the colorful diversity of India, local communities have taken center stage. They have donned the blue umbrella—the symbol of protection—and raised their voices against sexual violence. How? By organizing workshops, discussions, and awareness programs that empower boys and young men.

Let’s see some examples:

  1. Bangladesh’s Association for Community Development (ACD)
    They have emphasised proactive community involvement. It is not enough to react; we must prevent. ACD’s tireless efforts are creating safe spaces where boys can thrive without fear.
  2. Nairobi’s Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC): Breaking down social norms is their superpower. GVRC’s workshops encourage boys to speak up; shattering the silence that often surrounds abuse.
  3. India’s Butterflies NGO: They have taken to the streets with street theatre performances that pack a punch. These powerful performances ignite conversations, challenge taboos, and demand change.
  4. ChildLink Guyana: The airwaves are alive with discussions on prevention, turning radio shows into platforms for change.
  5. Conacmi Guatemala: Conducted a survey on the issue, facilitating awareness workshops in schools with Ministry of Education, organised press conference and a regional webinar with Chile and Colombia.
  6. CAP Liberia ran important engagement sessions with government, stakeholders, other organisations and partners to create awareness and advocacy
  7. Praajak, India collaborated with the constitutional institutions and organised a workshop with government and non government actors on how to better protect boys
  8. Taller De Vida, Colombia organised numerous events across country in partnership with Government institutions and influencing policy change. 

Expanding horizons

The campaign’s reach extends beyond borders. New member countries—New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Rwanda—have joined the chorus. Their inclusion underscores the global significance of addressing sexual violence against boys. It is a collective acknowledgment that no boy should suffer in silence.

But wait, there’s more! Local CSOs and individual practitioners outside our member’s network are the unsung heroes. They are the ones on the ground, rolling up their sleeves, and making a difference just for the cause: some examples include 

  • CINI in India: Their tireless advocacy raises awareness and ensures better services for boys affected by sexual abuse.
  • The Institute for Social Change in Pakistan: They are rewriting the narrative, one conversation at a time.
  • The Rise to Africa Initiative in Nigeria: Their name says it all—they are lifting boys out of darkness.
  • Girls Activist Youth Organisation (GAYO) in Malawi: Their passion fuels change, and their voices echo across the plains.
  • The Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN) in the USA: They are weaving safety nets for boys, catching them when they fall.

Our strategic allies

Strategic partners amplify the campaign’s heartbeat. Elevate Children Funders Group, ISPCAN, In Hope, Safe Online – End Violence Against Children, ECPAT, Equimundo, All Survivors Project, Railway Children, Hope and Homes, SOS Children’s Village, Women Refugee Commission—they’re the wind beneath our blue umbrellas. Their networks crisscross continents, ensuring that messages echo far and wide.

A future forged in unity

As we await further updates, we celebrate the journey of BUD—a journey that proves that every step, every word, and every action moves us closer to a world where boys are safe, supported, and free from fear. Every action matters. Whether it is a workshop in Nairobi or a street performance in Delhi, it contributes to a future where boys thrive without fear.

Together, we are erasing the shadows, dismantling the chains, and creating a world where sexual violence against boys is not just condemned—it has actively prevented and eradicated. The blue umbrella is our shield, and our resolve is unyielding. Join us, for every boy’s sake.

 

Rajiv Kumar

Senior Programme Advisor

Family For Every Child

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