16 Days of Activism: Will you be wearing your white ribbon?

So it’s that time of the year again. Tomorrow is November 25 and it marks DAY ONE of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. November 25th is also the United Nations General Assembly designated date for  International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Why November 25th?

One may wonder what was the reasoning behind choosing November 25 as the day to commemorate an international call to end violence against women. The day and its relationship to ending VAW finds its roots in Latin America where on November 25, 1960  Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabal of the Dominican Republic were violently  assassinated  by the  Rafael Trujillo dictatorship. “The Mirabal sisters were political activists and highly visible symbols of resistance to Trujillo’s dictatorship.” It is said that Trujillo publicly declared the Church and the Mirabal sisters as two of his problems. To rid himself of the Mirabal problem, Trujillo had the sisters assassinated on November 25, 1960. The brutality of their death ignited a national outcry that eventually toppled the Trujillo dictatorship within the year. Thereafter, the Mirabal sisters continue living on in spirit known, gaining the name “The Unforgettable Butterflies” and to this day they symbolize feminist resistance worldwide.

In 1981 in Bogota, Colombia, the  first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean declared the day to denounce all forms of violence perpetrated against women.

It was not until 1999 that the United Nations General Assembly in its 54th session designated November 25th as the  International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, recalling its 1993  Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

What is ’16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence’?

The 16 days of activism against gender violence is a global initiative that was launched in 1991 by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL)  at Rutgers University, New Jersey, calling for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. The days from November 25 to December 10 designated to  commemorate  these 16 days of activism include some important dates that were purposely coincided with the campaign:

  • November 25 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
  • November 29 – International Women Human Rights Defenders Day
  • December 1 – World Aids Day
  • December 6 – Marks the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre,  observed in Canada as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
  • December 10 – International Human Rights Day  and the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Why it’s done?
  • to raise awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
  • to  strengthen  local work around violence against women
  • to set up a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
  • to provide a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
  • to show the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women
  • to create tools to push governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women

2011 Theme
Every year CWGL comes up with a theme in consultation with women’s human rights advocates worldwide, even though some parts of the world adhere strictly to a given theme, while others continue to focus on raising awareness in general. However, the theme established for this year is From Peace in the Home to Peace in World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! This theme is a follow-up to 2010’s theme entitled Structure of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence Against Women.  
Activities on the blog
To commemorate 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence i will be sharing with you bits and bobs on issues surrounding VAW. Entries will come in various forms…poems, videos, contemplation over and engagement with the 2011 theme in an African context, etc.
If you’re in any one of the 54 African countries and want to share what’s happening in your area on 16 days of activism, email africanfeminism@gmail.com.
In Ethiopia, a GBV campaign group composed of local and international organizations conducts various activities annually to commemorate 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence.
What are you doing to SAY NO to VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN?
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Love & Light

  1. Hi
    Enjoyed your post. As a Soroptimist we mark Nov 25th and I’ve become much more aware of violence against women in all its forms.
    I commend your work
    Thank you.

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