Take Action During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

Today commences the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, a global campaign first developed in 1991 by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The campaign’s theme this year is “From Peace at Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!” This is the fourth consecutive year that the CWGL has elected this theme, which focuses on militarism as a product of a culture of fear that is propagated by violence and on military intervention in political and social conflicts or to implement a particular economic or political agenda.

16 Days has continued with the three priority areas they identified in the 2012 campaign: violence perpetrated by state actors; domestic violence and the role of small arms; and sexual violence during and after conflict.

Violence perpetrated by state actors refers to the acts of aggression women encounter that are supported by government or political figures. Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) and other activists are particularly vulnerable to this abuse, being assaulted both physically and sexually. Women’s voices are silenced by authority figures, and in some places, they are punished for the crimes committed against them by facing social prejudice and ostracization.

The second priority area, domestic violence and the role of small arms, highlights a major danger to women inside their own homes. The unfortunate fact is that the majority of the world’s women will experience violence from an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Statistics have shown that the presence of a gun in a household almost triples the risk of death for women.

The last priority area, sexual violence during and after conflict, is a real threat to all women internationally. Women and girls who are living in refugee camps or who work or live near military bases are particularly vulnerable to this peril. This kind of violence can stay with women physically, psychologically and socially long after the abuse has ended.

The 16 Days campaign has created a strong social presence for itself to encourage active global participation in this important event. For instance, their Twitter account engages people using a “Question of the Day” to be answered by individuals using the #16Days hashtag. They also have a Facebook page, a Campaign Calendar where organization’s and groups can report on their activities during the 16 Days, and forums where individuals can discuss issues relating to gender and violence.

One very useful resource provided by the campaign is the Take Action Kit, available through their website. It provides documents containing more in-depth information on the campaign and each of the three priority areas, as well as document templates so groups can do their own advocacy in the community.

Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women also falls within the 16 Days campaign on December 6th. Established in 1991 by the Parliament of Canada, December 6th marks the anniversary of the murders of 14 young women at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal in 1989.

Since CFUW is engaging in a National Initiative on Violence against Women this year, a number of resources have also been created for our members to use during the 16 Days campaign, particularly December 6th:

The campaign will conclude on December 10, International Human Rights Day. To find out more about the campaign, and to find ways to participate in your area, please visit the 16 Days website at http://16dayscwgl.rutgers.edu.

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