Every year between 25 November and 10 December, the world commemorates 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. And every year, we hear the same response: ‘But how can 16 days be enough to make a difference?’
We agree that gender-based violence is something that should be top of mind every day of the year. And, in our hearts, minds and actions, it is. But highlighting these specific 16 days generates a powerful boost in awareness that galvanises groups and individuals into action.
Here are all ways 16 Days of Activism has helped to raise awareness around and curb violence against women and children, and how the campaign can help you.
What 16 days of activism has achieved since its inception in 1991
- In 1995, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action was adopted. It’s considered the most progressive pathway to gender equality.
- In March 2015, world leaders met at the UN’s 59th Commission on the Status of Women, as well as in September 2015 at the 70th General Assembly. At these meetings, they analysed the progress made thus far and committed to taking action to close the gaps that are holding girls and women back.
Also in 2015, the Sustainable Development agenda replaced the Millennium Development Goals. This new agenda includes, for the very first time, specific steps towards ending abuse against women and children, and focuses strongly on effective implementation.
- In 2014, there was an increase during the 16-day period in online activism through blogging, social media, teach-ins and conversations around the campaign.
- Each year for several years, the campaign has released the Take Action Kit, which helps guide and educate those interested in promoting the campaign and learning more about ending violence against women and children.
The campaign has helped to raise awareness among men, who are critical to helping end the violence.
The campaign has helped to raise funds for organisations aiding and supporting the victims of violence. 16 Days of Activism highlights the importance of sustainable funding for these organisations.
- It’s helped individuals to understand that even their ‘small’ impact is critical to upholding gender equality and ending abuse. The campaign empowers individuals to take a stand and help make a difference, through (for example) calling out abusers on their behaviour; reporting abuse to relevant authorities; seeking help and support from trustworthy sources, and lending support to victims of abuse. These are all things that anyone can and should be doing. They all add up to create massive change!
- You can get even more clued up by reading these helpful FAQs around 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, or this blog post, 16 Things you need to know about 16 Days of Activism.
Where to go if you need help
If you or someone that you know is a victim of abuse, there are safe places you can contact for confidential help:
- National Crisis Helpline (Lifeline): 0861 322 322
- Family and Marriage Society of South Africa: 012 460 0733
- National Network on Violence Against Women: 012 321 4959
- For counselling and support for children, contact Childline on 0800 055 555