This Saturday, the 25th of November, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This date also marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence, ending on the 10th of December on International Human Rights Day (to highlight that violence against women is a human rights abuse). The 16 days is a global campaign which originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. It aims to raise awareness about gendered violence and its impact on a woman’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual well being.
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, especially in our most intimate relationships. We all have the right to be taken seriously and treated equally in our relationships, to make our own decisions and be able to say ‘no’. If you feel like something is not quite right in your relationship, you can read more about the warning signs of abuse and your relationship rights here.
Abusive behaviour is not only physical, but can also include controlling behaviour and emotional abuse. It might also be helpful to watch our video Is Your Relationship Healthy?. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone and help is here if you need it.
Family and gendered violence is a serious and prevalent issue in Australia. It is the leading contributor to the preventable death, disability and illness of young women. This year, in Australia alone, more than one woman has been killed every week. One in three women have experienced physical violence, and one in five have experienced sexual violence by a partner, other known person or stranger.
These statistics are alarming to say the least, but what is equally concerning are the attitudes that both contribute to and follow these horrific events. Gender inequality and sexism are major contributors to violence against women across the globe. Often, victim/survivors feel guilt, shame and blame themselves after experiencing violence.
This is why the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is so important in tackling gender inequality and women’s safety. It is a time to raise awareness about these issues, to challenge sexist attitudes and behaviours, to support victims of violence, and to unite with women across the world.
It is also a time to challenge the status quo and ask questions. When speaking out against violence against women UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon said:
“What is even harder to understand is why. Why men prey on women and girls; why societies shame the victims, why governments fail to punish deadly crimes, why the world denies itself the fruits of women’s full participation…The world cannot afford to pay this price.”
Women and girls have way too much to offer to be pushed aside, excluded and ignored. If you want to make a difference and participate in the 16 day of activism here are a few things you can do:
1. Self Care
Although promoting gender equality and discussing these important issues is great thing, this can also be a really difficult time for some people. The most important thing to remember is to look after yourself, make some time to relax, or do something that will help reduce your stress levels. Talk to someone you trust about what you are feeling, like a parent, teacher or school counsellor, or seek further support if you need it.
2. Go orange
Orange is the colour of the campaign so by wearing it, decorating your classroom or house with it, or displaying it on your social media pages, you can show your support of the campaign and for all women and girls.
Image from petchary.wordpress.com
3. Educate yourself and learn more about violence against women
UN Women have a great resource you can access here, or you can visit our articles on family violence, relationship violence and women’s rights.
4. Share the following hashtags and create awareness and discussion on social media:
5. Suggest a class morning tea or lunch at your school during the 16 days
This could include orange-themed food and decorations and could be a good way to promote awareness and discussion within your school community.
6. Start a fundraising campaign at your school
You could raise money for non-for-profits working in the anti-violence and gender equality sectors.
If you run an event or a fundraiser at your school or in your community let us know! We love hearing about teenagers changing the world for the better 🙂
7. Call out sexist behaviour
If you hear people at school victim blaming or saying something offensive and sexist, call them out on it and let them know that it’s not cool and that all genders deserve respect.
8. Support your friends and those around you who have or are experiencing violence
Here is a list of Support Services if you or someone you know needs help.
9. Continue to fight for gender equality beyond the 16 days
Gather your girl gangs, harness your inner girl power and continue to stand up for a better future!
Lastly, remember that your health and wellbeing are much more important than any activism work. If you are feeling burnt out, reach out! Contact any of these support services if you, or anyone you know needs someone to talk to:
SAFE STEPS – For confidential support and information call 1800 015 188 family violence response line 24/7.
KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800 Kids Helpline is a counselling service for Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years. 24/7 phone and online services.
FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS ONLINE – 1800 050 321 (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 10am-4pm) provides all families (whether together or separated) with access to information about family relationship issues, ranging from building better relationships to dispute resolution.
1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732 The national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 24/7 phone and online services.
Maddy regularly writes for Rosie, and is passionate about music, history, art and gender equality.