The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence is an annual international campaign that that has started on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day indicating that violence against women is the most pervasive breach of human rights worldwide. An opportunity to ‘Unite to Orange the World’.
These days are a vital focus alongside the work being done ‘day in, day out’. The #16days campaign provides a platform for organising individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. This year, the UN marks the 16 Days under the theme “UNiTE! Activism to end violence against women and girls”.
Violence against women and girls remains the most pervasive human rights violation around the world. Already heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic, its prevalence is now being further increased by the intersecting crises of climate change, global conflict and economic instability. There is more proof than ever that violence against women and girls is preventable.
Whether you’re a seasoned activist or just getting started, here are ten ways you can act now to end violence against women and girls:
1. Speak up, speak out
Violence against women is pervasive, but it’s not inevitable—unless we stay silent. In the face of rising anti-feminist movements, it’s more crucial than ever that we speak up and out. You can use the media and information resources available in the links with this article as well as using #OrangeTheWorld, #16Days and #PushForward to start your own conversation about gender-based violence.
2. Know the issue—and the signs
Violence against women takes many forms. It can be physical, sexual or emotional. It can be public or private, online or off, perpetrated by a stranger or an intimate partner. Regardless of how, where, or why it happens, it has serious short- and long-term consequences for women and girls and serves to prevent their full and equal participation in society.
Know what to look for by familiarising yourself with the different kinds of violence: Types of Violence Against Women
If you think someone in your life might be suffering from abuse, there are common signs you can look for. Learn more about what abuse looks like, and how you can help: Signs of Abuse
3. Call out sexual harassment
For many women, sexual harassment is a daily experience. Whether it’s online, on the street or in the workplace, brushing off inappropriate behavior serves to further normalize it. Common forms of harassment like online bullying, catcalling, sexual comments and sexual jokes serve to make women and girls feel unwelcome and unsafe in public spaces. They help to reinforce biases and stereotypes that perpetuate misogyny. And they contribute to a culture of impunity, in which women can be harmed without consequence.
Create a safer environment for everyone online and offline by challenging your peers to reflect on their own behaviour and speaking up when someone crosses the line, or by enlisting the help of others if you don’t feel safe.
4. Challenge beliefs on masculinity
Toxic masculinity drives violence against women. Evidence shows that women in relationships with men whose beliefs and behaviours reinforce male dominance and gender inequality are more likely to experience intimate partner violence.
Traditional concepts of masculinity tend to emphasise traits like aggression, strength and control—while disparaging sensitivity, empathy, vulnerability and other traits traditionally associated with femininity.
When we fail to challenge these beliefs, everyone loses.
5. Fund women’s organisations
Investing in women’s movements matters. Increasing long-term funding to women’s rights organisations is key to finding effective solutions to prevent and respond to violence against women. Donate to local organisations that empower women, support survivors and promote actions and policies designed to reduce and prevent violence.
6. Call for better responses and services
Services for women and girls experiencing violence can be the difference between life and death.
This means that shelters, hotlines, counseling and all support for survivors of gender-based violence need to be available for those in need, even during crises and emergencies.
Every year, the 16 Days of Activism campaign calls for united, global action to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
Join us in calling on governments to bridge funding gaps to address violence against women and girls, ensure essential services for survivors of violence are maintained during crisis and conflict, implement prevention measures, and invest in adapting and improving life-saving services for women and girls in diverse contexts.
7. Demand more data
To effectively combat gender-based violence, we need to understand the issue.
Relevant data collection is key to implementing successful prevention measures and providing survivors with the right support. And yet the collection of sex-disaggregated and other crucial gender data remains a low priority for governments.
As gender-based violence has spiked due to COVID-19, climate change and other crises, the gaps in gender sensitive data collection have become more glaring than ever. Call on your government to invest in the collection of data on gender-based violence.
8. Push for stronger laws
We are still 21 years away from comprehensive laws banning violence against women to be in place globally.
The world needs stronger protection mechanisms to prevent and eliminate violence, harassment, threats, intimidation, and discrimination against women human rights defenders and women’s rights advocates and activists. Find out about the laws in your country.
9. Support women’s leadership
During COVID-19, women were vastly underrepresented on recovery task forces—a disparity reflected in the insufficiency of government responses to gender-specific issues like heightened domestic violence.
The same is true for climate action, peacebuilding, and a whole host of other issues: when women aren’t at the table, their voices aren’t being heard. That makes it all too easy for decision-making bodies to overlook crucial gaps in policies and financing.
Women’s representation in decision-making spaces helps to ensure that the needs of women and girls are front and centre—in crisis responses, humanitarian and peace agreements and policies of all kind. At the same time, women leaders face heightened risk of violence: across 5 regions, 82 per cent of women parliamentarians reported experiencing some form of psychological violence during their terms.
Call for women’s increased representation in leadership, and for heightened protections for women in positions of power. Support women political candidates and women-led organizations and companies. Or take matters into your own hands—become the woman leader you want to see in the world.
10. Build solidarity with other movements
We’re stronger when we work together.
Violence against women and girls is inherently connected to other forms of harm and injustice, including racism, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism, poverty, and climate change. Strengthen the fight against gender-based violence by getting involved in other social and political movements, and getting activists from those movements involved in yours.
Together, we can resist the rollback on women’s rights, amplify the demands of feminist movements across the world and push forward to end violence against women and girls once and for all.
As in previous years, the colour orange will be used to represent a brighter future, free from violence against women and girls, as a unifying theme running through all global actions of the UNiTE campaign. Let’s Unite to Orange the World!!
[Note: the text used in these 10 points is an extract from from un.woment.org article which you can red in full Push Forward – 10 Ways to end violence against women].
Making Uncomfortable Conversations Comfortable
The International Presentation Association (IPA) is the global advocacy mission of the Presentation Sisters and Presentation People today. The IPA is a network of over 1,500 religious sisters and Presentation People in over 20 countries. See HERE
In 2020, the IPA identified “Elimination of Violence Against Women and Children” as its specific UN Advocacy Focus. The focus emerged from the IPA Priority Action “Women and Children”, intersecting with Priority Actions to “Honour and Advance the Rights of the Earth and the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal people” as well as the Sustainable Development Goals framework.
The COVID-19 global pandemic, intensified and worsened violence against women. The confined living conditions of lockdown, with severe health, economic and social impacts, amplified existing inequalities and power imbalances and disproportionately affected those most vulnerable worldwide.
Presentation Sisters and People have actively engaged in various projects for minimizing violence against women. As leaders in their missions and professions, they work in partnerships with women and their communities to educate and empower them with skills in all aspects. Promoting gender equality has been a critical part of preventing and addressing violence against women. This includes interventions, at global and local level, that address the entrenched beliefs and cultural norms from which gender inequalities develop in order to reduce gender-based violence.
A vital research publication
The monumental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on entrenching gender roles and patterns of gender-based violence was the pressing reason for the current publication.
The IPA’s particular interest lies in providing a voice to women experiencing gender stereotypes and domestic violence – presenting not only their experiences, but also their needs going forward, as reflective of their culture and society.
This research publication, ‘Making Uncomfortable Conversations Comfortable’, has been conducted by Ella Rayment, Research Fellow International Presentation Association under the supervision of Dr. Despoina Afroditi Milaki, the IPA NGO Representative at the UN, as a response to the unparalleled entrenchment of gender stereotypes and domestic violence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Setting the stage for developing IPAs advocacy work in the future, this publication will be the first of many to work with survivors and advocates to privilege experiences and present solutions to gender stereotypes and domestic violence.
As ‘IPA’ are continuously awakened with a global consciousness to the woundedness and pain of our world, standing with people in their struggles, while speaking and acting for justice, healing and hope for all.