According to the UN, 35 percent of women and girls worldwide experience some form of physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. In some countries, this number goes up to 70 percent. This violence against women impacts on and impedes progress in many areas including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security. This violence is preventable but often is a consequence of discrimination against women and persisting inequalities between men and women.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was on November 25, marking the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. These 16 days, which end with Human Rights Day on December 10, are meant to symbolically link violence against women with human rights, and to emphasize that such violence is the worst form of violation of women’s human rights. This campaign aims to raise awareness of gender-based violence and to rouse people around the world to bring this violence to an end.
The UN General Assembly designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in 1999 in honor of three sisters: Patria Mercedes Mirabal, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal, and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal. These three women were assassinated on November 25, 1960, by the Dominican Republic for their political activism. They showed great courage to speak out against the dictator Rafael Trujillo despite the prevalent violence that was used to intimidate women and keep them out of politics.
The theme of 2015 focuses on the prevention of violence against women, and the UN Headquarters in New York launched the first UN Framework on Preventing Violence against Women. Events for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence have taken place in more than 70 countries around the world and include lighting major landmarks orange to symbolize a brighter future without violence. Though the 16 Days campaign is now coming to an end, we can all continue to advocate for an end to gender-based violence and the violation of human rights throughout the year.
Sophia Rowland is a new volunteer at the Center, assisting with office administration. Sophia is a junior at UNC-Chapel Hill majoring in Psychology and Computer Science with a minor in Biology.