16 Days: 16 ways women’s rights advocates are tackling violence against women

Bridie Taylor | Nov 26, 2018

This weekend women’s rights advocates across the globe came together to kick off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The global campaign, launched on 25th November on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and running until International Human Rights Day on 10th December, unites activists from 160+ countries to galvanise action towards a world free from violence against women and girls.

Why is 16 Days so important?

Violence against women and girls is pervasive and one of the most widespread human rights violations. Worldwide 1 in every 3 women and girls encounter violence at some point in their lives. That’s more than 1 billion facing physical,  sexual and psychological violence, including domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation/cutting, early and forced marriage. Violence against women and girls permeates all areas of women’s lives, from violence against women at home to violence against women in public life, such as the workplace (including the informal sector and politics), schools and universities, to the violence and abuse against women which is increasingly happening online.    

Sharing stories like Sirgut’s with you highlights just how serious the problem is. Sirgut was raised in rural Ethiopia as one of five children but after her father passed away, she was sent to live with her aunt in Addis Ababa. At 12 years old, life in the capital looked promising. She would attend school and have time to study. But things weren’t as her aunt said they would be. With her aunt working nights, she had to work in the house until midnight, allowing her no time to study and leaving her alone with her aunt’s husband.

“My Aunt was working nights and her husband came into my room and raped me one night. I couldn’t sleep after that, I would stay awake all night. Sometimes when I did fall asleep, I’d wake up and he would be strangling me. He raped me many times. I would bleed a lot. He used a knife and threatened to kill me and my Aunt if I told anyone.”

Eventually Sirgut received help from her neighbours and the police, who brought her to a safe house run by Womankind partner Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD). This saved her life and has helped to save so many others.

Prevention is possible

Thanks to the help of organisations like AWSAD, many women are able to rebuild their lives after experiencing violence. But violence is of course preventable. No woman should have to experience violence, whether at home, at work or online.

A women’s right to a life free from violence is protected under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and other international human rights standards, which make it clear that violence is a form of discrimination.  Many national laws also exist however there are gaps and national laws and policies are often not effectively implemented. Crucially, harmful social norms and traditional gender roles, and unequal power relations must be challenged and attitudes and beliefs changed in order to successfully end violence against women and girls for good. In addition to VAWG prevention, women-led and women-only support services must be readily available to women survivors of violence, and women need to be able to access justice.

We know that some of the most effective interventions to end violence against women and girls are community-based, empower women and girls, challenges attitudes, norms and behaviours, and increase awareness and understanding of the issue among government officials. This approach is echoed in our partners’ work and this 16 Days, our partners join thousands of women’s rights organisations to demand change.

Here are 16 diverse and inspiring ways our partners are marking 16 Days:

  1. Setaweet in Ethiopia are hosting an exhibition entitled“#Whatshewore”Press conference to launch #WhatSheWore exhibition where clothes worn by sexual assault survivors will be displayed. More than 5000 schoolchildren are due to visit the exhibition, which aims to challenge rape culture myths.
  2. Across the Horn of Africa, SIHA Network are running a digital campaign where they will profile an inspiring women’s rights defender each day.
  3. In Zimbabwe, Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) are running an innovative campaign via WhatsApp called “16 Days, 16 Rights”, which aims to educate and inform women about a different right each day.
  4. Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention (CEDOVIP) in Uganda are focusing on the theme of “My Body, Every Day and Everywhere! Safety and Respect for Girls and Women” and their activities include convening a high level forum for judges and holding a breakfast meeting with parliamentarians as they look to gain institutional commitments towards ending violence against women and girls.
  5. Zimbabwe Women’s Lawyers Association (ZWLA) are launching a sexual harassment policy for women in farming and hosting meetings with the local community and female parliamentarians to gain support.
  6. In Kenya, Polycom Development Project (Polycom) will run a peer exchange and storytelling session to ensure experiences from women including domestic workers are heard. They’re also hosting “Standing up for my rights” inter-regional volleyball games.
  7. Isis-WICCE are providing women human rights defenders with practical information and sources of support in relation to the threats faced due to the nature of this work. This includes a Tweet Chat on preventing and responding to human rights defenders’ security issues.
  8. Focusing on violence against LBTQ women, Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) will host a Facebook Live Discussion on tackling issues around intersectionality.
  9. In Nepal, the Agroforestry, Basic Health and Cooperative Nepal (ABC Nepal) will raise awareness of violence against women and girls with activities including a silent protest and a petition among men to show their commitment in creating a safe environment for women in the workplace.
  10. Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) are organising activities throughout the 16 Days, which include a talent competition, a candle night ceremony and a video blitz illustrating forms of violence against women and girls.
  11. Siiqqee Women’s Development Association (Siiqqee) in Ethiopia are hosting a panel discussion in line with the global theme of gender-based violence in the workplace.
  12. In Uganda, National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)’s activities include using radio to raise awareness in the local community with programmes focusing on diverse rural women’s experiences of violence.
  13. Women Challenged to Challenge (WCC) in Kenya are holding a procession walk to highlight issues of violence against women and girls with disabilities.Mitini Nepal highlight GBV in the workplace
  14. To highlight discrimination faced by lesbian, bisexual and trans women ineducational and community settings, Mitini Nepal will be organising a street drama on discrimination, a story sharing session and a flash mob.
  15. Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association (EWDNA) are launching two papers, one on violence against women and girls and disabilities and one on “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.
  16. In Uganda, National Association for Women’s Action in Development (NAWAD) are running activities including radio talk shows, community clean up exercises and documenting community voices with a particular emphasis on survivors of violence.

Your role in 16 Days

We know that together are voices are stronger. This is why our efforts will be more effective with your support!

  • Know the facts: Follow us on social media throughout the 16 Days to find out more about violence against women and girls and how our partners are tackling the issue. Share our posts to help amplify our partners' voices.
  • Break the silence: On Thursday 29th November, we will launch new findings on women’s rights activists’ experiences of online violence and abuse in the ‘Breaking the Silence’ policy briefing. Help us to break the silence by sharing the briefing and participating in the #BreakTheSilence social media campaign. More info coming soon…
  • Share your experiences: Join us for a Twitter chat on 10th December to hear more about the issue of online violence and abuse and experiences from women’s rights activists across the world. It’s also your opportunity to share your own views and experiences.

Visit our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages for more.



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