16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

November 25 marks the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. It is an international campaign that first began in 1991 and remains an annual event run by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. The campaign ends on December 10, which is National Human Rights Day. The campaign’s goal is bringing awareness to Gender Based Violence against women at a local scale as well as an international scale. The 16 days are meant to be a unifying time for women to strategize and work towards governmental change to stop Gender Based Violence. Over 6,000 organizations from over 180 different countries have participated in the campaign since its beginning.

For 2019 the Center for Women’s Global Leadership has created an Advocacy Guide to outline specific initiatives for this year. One of the main actions in the guide is to support the International Labor Organization Convention 190 which has set standards to end gender-based violence in the workplace. “Ending gender-based violence in the world of work will require joint action by women workers, Unions, Parliamentarians, Journalists and Human Rights Activists. This Advocacy Guide helps show the way and, if utilized, will create a surge in demands for ratification that Governments will not be able to ignore,” said Melissa Upreti, Senior Director, Program and Global Advocacy at CWGL. In essence, the convention is a key tool in the path to ending Gender- Based Violence.

The use of hashtags in other women’s movements has been used to bring increased awareness to Gender-Based Violence during the 16 Days of Activism. Hashtags like #NiUnaMenos and #MeToo have heightened media coverage and solidarity within the movements. For the 16 Day campaign specifically, the hashtags #RatifyILO190 and #ILOendGBV are meant to support the International Labor Organization and to ensure that women’s experiences reach the forefront of discussion about strategies to end Gender-Based Violence. The end goal is to create a lawful incorporation of standards to address Gender-Based Violence and harassment in the workplace.

Around the world demonstrations and marches spread an even greater awareness about Gender-Based Violence. The history of gender-based violence is vast and such violence affects 1 in 3 women throughout their lives. The unbalanced distribution of power between men and women is a monumental problem in and out of the workplace. As stated by UN Women, it is imperative to take preventative steps to eliminate gender-based violence early through education about gender equality and how to create positive relationships. Programs like “Voices Against Violence” are becoming more prominent in communities with a goal of stopping violence. Organizations with similar programs are also a form of outreach for communities and support women who have experienced violence.

If you are wondering about what you can do personally about Gender-Based Violence, Women for Women International outlines three things that everyone can do.

  1. Educate yourself and others about Gender-Based Violence
  2. Use your voice on social media to bring awareness to Gender-Based Violence
  3. Sponsor a woman survivor of conflict and war

Each action can make an impact on the ongoing discussion and add to the integral dialogue about such a large scale and historical problem. There are a growing number of organizations that can provide education, volunteer opportunities, and act as a source to spread awareness about Gender-Based Violence.

Information from the websites of the European Institute for Gender Equality, Center for Women’s Global Leadership, Women for Women International, and UN Women.

Written by Ellen McInnes ’22, WGRC student worker