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International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Begins 16 Days of Activism

25th November 2013

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Today is the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which marks the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

During the just-over-a-fortnight, which culminates on 10th December with International Human Rights Day, events will stretch from a march against violence against women in Armenia, to the screening of UN documentaries in Geneva, to rallies in Kolkata/Auckland/Paris, to talks from police chiefs and women’s campaigners at the University of Worcester in the UK.

This year, the theme is ‘safe public spaces for women and girls.’ Throughout every month of 2013 (last year UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon named 25th of every month ‘Orange Day’, in a call for anti-violence activities to be held monthly rather than once a year) this approach has taken on specific sub-themes: safe work places (April), safe homes (May), state custody and care as safe spaces (June), cyberspace (July) and safe schools (October). In August, the theme was ‘Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Conflict.’

Here are some statistics, just in case you think that violence against women isn’t an issue that needs its own day, or its own 16 days, or to take up every 25th day of the month... or that the shouty women need to shut up and be satisfied with their lot (they’re not going to, so you might as well listen):

  1. 70% of women experience violence in their lifetime
  2. 500,000 to two million people are trafficked every year (into prostitution, forced labour, slavery, etc) and 80% of these are women and girls
  3. An estimated 130 million girls and women alive today have undergone Female Genital Mutilation
  4. In the USA, ‘intimate partner violence’ costs the country more than $5.8 billion every year
  5. 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime
And here’s a video.

It’s all part of the wider UNiTE To End Violence Against Women campaign, which was set up by Ban Ki-moon in 2008 with the aim of raising public awareness and increasing political resources to combat all forms of violence against women and girls in all areas of the world.

Alongside the UNiTE campaign is the Safe Cities Global Initiative, launched in 2010 by UN Women, which is working in 15 cities around the world (including Rio de Janeiro, San Jose, Beirut, Nairobi, Marrakesh, Manila, and one  in the developed world, Dublin), to combat sexual harassment and sexual violence, and make cities more sustainable for women.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres today spoke about how humanitarian crises such as those currently facing those in Syria and the Philippines affect children and adolescents more than most: "Loss of family members, homes and ultimately futures, but also pre-existing gender inequalities and disruption of protective systems make boys, girls and youth extremely vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence."

Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon says he welcomes “the chorus of voices calling for an end to the violence that affects an estimated one in three women in her lifetime. I applaud leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets. And I pay tribute to all those heroes around the world who help victims to heal and to become agents of change."

Find out more information here.  

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