The United Nations has designated 25th November each year as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls. This day signifies the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign spanning from 25 November through 10 December, when the world marks Human Rights Day.
This year the 16 days is taking place against the backdrop of an unprecedented global outcry. Millions have rallied behind the hashtag #MeToo and other campaigns, exposing the sheer magnitude of sexual harassment and other forms of violence that women everywhere suffer, every day. Breaking the silence is the first step to transforming the culture of gender-based violence.
At the heart of this year’s theme, “Leave No One Behind – End Violence against Women”, for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women, is the imperative to support those who are particularly vulnerable.
One in three women and girls experience violence in their lifetime—that is one too many. It happens in every country and every society. It happens at home, in schools, on the streets, at work, on the internet and in refugee camps. It happens during war, and even in the absence of war. Too often, it is normalized and goes unpunished.
In her remarks at this year’s launch event, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said that gender-based violence takes place hidden, but in plain sight, normalized so it is hardly noticeable.
“It becomes just part of life,” she said. “When we talk about leaving no one behind, we want to identify all these different forms of violence that women experience.”
She said the momentum has already been created by the #MeToo movement. This movement has exposed how men in authority can become serial perpetrators, and that men’s rise to positions of power does not always mean they respect those they are responsible for leading.
It also exposed how frightening it is for young women and young men to come to the front to expose those predators, because there is always the chance that they will not be believed. And it exposed how a culture of entitlement, where there are no consequences for sexual crimes, has left many women tormented in silence.
“Sanctions and accountability are critical for behaviour change, and for the coming generations to be socialized differently, so that they know that this is not acceptable,” she stressed.
Throughout the 16 days Safe In Warwickshire will be publishing a number of articles on the action we are taking locally to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls as well as supporting our partner agencies in their activities, so check back here regularly or sign up for our updates.
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