Each year, from 25 November to World Human Rights Day on 10 December, the 16 Days of Activism campaign calls for action against one of the world’s most persistent violations of human rights – violence against women.
During the 16 Days of Activism, people around the world will unite to raise awareness about gender-based violence, challenge discriminatory attitudes and call for improved laws and services to end violence against women for good.
Violence against women continues to occur at an alarming scale in every country in the world. Too often it is accepted as normal behaviour and the global culture of discrimination against women allows violence to occur with impunity. Recent movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp have propelled this issue onto the global stage.
Speaking out against women’s rights abuses is something that women’s rights organisations do every day. From lobbying governments to improve laws and services to working with communities to change discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, organisations and individuals are working all over the world to respond to and prevent violence against women.
However, violence against women is a global problem and it requires global action. Calls for action like the 16 days of Activism are crucial because they shine a spotlight on the issue of violence against women. They are a moment to create public awareness about what needs to change to prevent it from happening in the first place at local, national, regional and international levels.
So, who needs to be involved? To end violence against women, we need to challenge the attitudes that perpetuate, rationalise and normalise that violence, and deny women’s right to safety. Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of gender-based violence. To see violence truly eliminated, the attitudes of men need to change. Shifting these behaviours is hard and slow, but gender equality means all of us, and working with all genders is the only way to see true change.