Since 1999, 25 November has marked the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The date commemorates this day in 1960, when the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, were assassinated by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.
This time last year, the EU launched its ‘year of focused action’ to tackle this pervasive and damaging issue. Their ‘Non. No. Nein’ campaign, under the hashtag #SayNoStopVAW, included a major social media campaign with massive reach. It has raised awareness among target groups, with information material and links to national support services.
‘No. Non. Nein’ was just one aspect of the year’s activity. The project is also collecting accurate data on where violence is happening most or least, and why. Several international conferences and meetings have taken place under this banner. The recent EC Colloquium on Fundamental Rights was about “women’s rights in turbulent times,” recognising the heightened risks to women and girls in wartime or after natural disasters.
In response to this important Day, UN Women has just launched #16days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 November – 10 December), with the theme: #LeaveNoOneBehind. It’s part of the Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women by 2030. The colour orange is going to feature on social media, at marches, exhibitions and concerts. In fact, the UN plans to #OrangeTheWorld! It will highlight key monuments and landmarks in cities across the world to draw attention to the issues. Check out the PDF on the UN Women campaign website; it details key dates over the next 16 days focusing on different aspects of women and girls at risk.
In addition, the EU and the UN have joined forces to launch the Spotlight Initiative. It’s a global project to end violence against women as part of the UN’s Fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), for Gender Equality, to be met by the target date of 2030. Together, these two institutions have contributed over €500 million. With that kind of funding, they can address the root causes of violence against women and girls on a global scale. Funds will also be used to help victims, empowering them to contribute to more secure and freer societies.
Personally, I feel encouraged that so much is being done to ‘name and shame’ this curse of all societies, the refusal to respect women’s rights and selfhood. I also feel that this could be a dangerous time, as more women start to speak out for their rights – men feel more threatened as their control wanes.
What do you think is the single most important factor in creating societies free from violence against women and girls? Money? Education? Other?
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