16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is right around the corner, and this years theme is UNITE: Activism to EndViolence Against Women and Girls. The 16 days, beginning on November 25th, which marks International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ending on December 10th, Human Rights Day, is an annual campaign to raise awareness and spread knowledge of the violence that women and girls face. This campaign draws an obvious connection between human rights and violence against women, asserting that violence against women must be seen as a violation of human rights.
Since 1981, women’s rights activists have observed the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, raising awareness and speaking out against gender based violence. By the year 2000, The General Assembly signed a bill making the day official and calling for organizations and governments globally to take action and raise awareness on gender based violence every November 25th. This specific date memorializes the Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic who were assassinated on this date in 1960. Today, the day is a landmark beginning for 16 days of raising awareness and advocacy for women's rights.
When the 16 days of activism campaign first launched in 1991 by the Women’s Global Leadership Institute, it made waves. The implementation of this campaign ensured that violence against women was a point of discussion at the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993.
The movement calls for an end to violence against women by 2030, something that participants work yearly to achieve. By spreading awareness and discussing strategies for change, the 16 Days of Activism brings people around the world to call for change. Staggering statistics demonstrate the importance of this campaign: 2 in 3 women state that they or someone they know has been a victim of some type of gender based violence; 26 percent of women 15 or older have been subjected to intimate partner violence; additionally, violence against women disproportionally affects women living in countries or regions that are considered low or middle income.
Awareness is the first step to a better and safer future for women and girls. Through campaigns like 16 Days of Activism, issues like these can attract the visibility that they deserve.