Eliminating violence against women, girls

Every year the world over, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is celebrated.

It is an international campaign originating from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Centre for Women's Global Leadership in 1991.

This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, which is World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The 2023 theme is UNiTE! Invest to prevent violence against women, girls.

Purpose of the 16 Days of Activism

The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organising strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels. 

Important dates of the period

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November 25  

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

 In 1960, three sisters from the Dominican Republic were beaten to death and dumped at the bottom of a cliff by President Rafael Trujillo’s secret police.

The Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa, who had been activists, actively opposed the cruelty and systematic violence of the Trujillo dictatorship and became symbols of the feminist resistance.

 In commemoration of their deaths, November 25 was declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Latin America in 1980.

 This international day was formally recognised by the United Nations in 1999.

November 29

November 29, which is International Women's Human Rights Defenders (WHRD) Day, is an occasion to celebrate and thank those women and girls who tirelessly advocate for human rights, and people of all genders who defend women’s rights and rights related to gender equality. 

December 1

World Aids Day: It is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease.

The Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The HIV virus attacks the immune system of the patient and reduces its resistance to other diseases.

The government, health officials, non-governmental organisations and individuals around the world observe the day, often with education on AIDS prevention and control.

December 3

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The annual observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons was proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly.

The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.

The theme for the 2023 International Day of Persons with Disabilities is "United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities."

December 5

Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development

The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (5 December), more commonly referred to as International Volunteer Day (IVD), is an international observance mandated by the UN General Assembly in 1985.

IVD 2023 recognised the power of collective action: if everyone volunteered, the world would be a better place.

December 6

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. 

It commemorates the deaths of 14 young female engineering students who were shot dead at Montreal University in Canada in 1989.

The gunman opened fire in two classrooms and the cafeteria after ordering 48 men in the room to leave.

Before opening fire, the gunman shouted:

“You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!” The crux of the matter is that the gunman was incessant about not being admitted to the engineering course but saw a lot of women being admitted. 

December 10

International Human Rights Day.

 The day is earmarked to celebrate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed in 1948.

 Article two of the Declaration proclaims: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms outlined in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex”.

Compiled by Frank Wilson Bodza, A Human Rights and Gender Activist

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