Background

16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign – November 25-December 10

An international campaign that originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates – 25 November, International Day Against Violence Against Women, and 10 December, World Human Rights Day – intentionally in order to emphasise that this kind of violence is a violation of human rights.

It is a campaign that brings governments, activists, UN agencies and civil society together to galvanise global action on ending violence against women and girls once and for all.

Since 1991, more than 5,100 organisations in 187 countries have participated in the 16 Days of Activism campaign, using it as a platform for raising awareness of violence as a human rights issue, strengthening local work around violence against women, sharing new and effective strategies, demonstrating solidarity of women, men, boys and girls, and creating tools to pressure governments to implement their promises around eliminating violence against women.

The 16 Days Campaign incorporates the following international days:

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Violence against women and girls in the Pacific

Violence against women and girls is not only a consequence of gender inequality but also a reinforcement of women’s low status in society and of the multiple disparities between women and men. Gender inequality and discrimination cut across public and private spheres of life, as well as across social, economic, cultural and political rights. They result in restrictions and limitations on women’s freedoms, choices and opportunities.

The Pacific has some of the world’s highest recorded levels of violence against women, with as many as 70% of women experiencing emotional, physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime – more than twice the global average.

A father makes a commitment in front of his daughter to stand up and speak out against all forms of violence against women during a 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence event in Papua New Guinea in 2014. Credit: Eastern Highlands Family Voice.

A father makes a commitment in front of his daughter to stand up and speak out against all forms of violence against women during a 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence event in Papua New Guinea in 2014. Credit: Eastern Highlands Family Voice.

Women often face social norms demanding that they be obedient to their husbands. These are often linked to deeply held beliefs among both men and women that there are justifiable reasons for husbands to use physical violence to discipline and control their wives.

Approximately 80 per cent of people in the Pacific live in rural areas or on outer islands, where services for survivors are often limited or non-existent. Even where they do exist the traditional silence around violence against women makes it difficult for women to talk about their suffering and to seek help in breaking the cycle of violence.

Despite the enormity of the problem, change is occurring in the region. Governments are beginning to advance legislation, policies and national action plans on ending violence against women. There have been significant advances in expanding women’s access to healthcare, social services and justice, however, the administration of social services, the implementation of laws and the overall functioning of the judicial and police systems remain fragile.

NGOs and community organisations are crucial to the provision of services for survivors, prevention activities and advocacy on the issue. An increasing number of women and their families directly affected by violence are able to access services and support.

 

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