“Not on our watch.” by Inbal Rief

‘Not on our watch’ is our journey to illustrate the spirit of female activists and the political violence they faced during the COVID-19 pandemic burst. It is about spreading the stories of courageous inspirational women fighting for their rights, women who want to be heard across social distances and beyond lockdowns.

Early 2020, when over 180 countries were already affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, mass reports surfaced of horrific violence against women worldwide. As of March 2020, 13 women in Israel had been killed by their partners, five of which occurred during that month. This prompted us to research women's fortitude and the violence they have faced over the past decade. With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the new decade, we wondered: how has it affected female-centered political activity around the world?

As part of our research, we discovered "The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project" (ACLED), which catalogues women's global political activities. It was overwhelming. During the COVID-19 pandemic burst, 1,761 female-centered political events were recorded. While some people were safely quarantined at home, women all over the world were fighting. Violence and demonstrations were daily occurrences in COVID time. Why was there so much activity during lockdowns and quarantines? How did we miss it?

Sifting through hundreds of data points, we uncovered political activity unique to COVID. Stories emerged about health workers being ostracized by their communities, vendors being brutally punished for violating quarantine rules, and women protesting government responses to the pandemic. And other than COVID-related issues, there was increased political activity ranging from peaceful protests during International Women's Day to more troubling instances of violence against women caught in the cross-fire of gang wars and political conflicts. . After witnessing women marching in Jerusalem in August 2020, we chose their message as the title of our project: "Not on our watch."

There are three main visualizations:

'Hair me out!' started from a simple draft of a sankey diagram, displaying events during the “COVID-19 Pandemic Burst”. But as I (designer) worked more with it, the bands of data transformed in my mind into strands of hair belonging to the women’s hidden stories behind that data. As part of the design, white space and color shades play a major role. The data breathes, giving the viewer more space to experience and interpret. The monochromatic color scheme illustrates that even peaceful demonstrations can quickly become violent or even fatal.

‘360 Fatalities in 360 degrees’, or, 'The butterfly', is a cluster circular dendrogram. It shows the days of Demonstrations, Violence and Loss during the COVID-19 Pandemic Burst. Each link in these event-groups indicates an active day, and each day has its fatality, or non fatality circle. An empty circle means zero fatalities, and filled equals one or more fatalities, relative to its size. The shading is the similar period in 2019.

‘Flower Demo map’ presents the last protest of the Flower Demo Movement in Japan, held on March 8, 2020 - on The International Women Day. Women gathered holding flowers, a symbol of empathy, to speak about their own experiences of sexual violence and urge reforms to Japan’s criminal code.
I (designer) chose the cherry blossom as a visual image. Each flower represents a gathering place by its geographic position, as recorded that day. The shape and color of the flowers vary like the stories they are meant to represent. The colors are a combination of the selected tints for Peaceful Protest, Attack, and Sexual Violence.

Join us in this journey.