International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women Day

Violence against women is fundamentally about power. It will only end when gender equality and the full empowerment of women is a reality.
— António Guterres
Photo credit: Travis Bozeman, Unsplash.com

Photo credit: Travis Bozeman, Unsplash.com

Today is International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The fact that such a day is necessary is terribly sad but the reality is that one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence — mostly by an intimate partner. Today kicksstarts 16 days of activism, raising awareness and encouraging education, intervention and prevention ending on December 10th, Human Rights Day.

One way you can help raise awareness is to wear orange. The UNiTE campaign encourages us to “Orange the World” to symbolize a brighter future without violence and to raise awareness. If somebody remarks upon your bright orange clothes, please do not hesitate to discuss why you are wearing the colour. Some facts and figures you can quote to help raise awareness can be found in the following video: 

“Men must teach each other that real men do not violate or oppress women – and that a woman’s place is not just in the home or the field, but in schools and offices and boardrooms.”
— SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

Another very real and helpful way to help stem this epidemic of violence towards women is to encourage woman who have been victimized to speak out. The global climate right now is one that is mercifully open and believing (if not shocked and distraught) about the swarms of claims being made public. The #MeToo campaign is just the tip of the iceberg. Not every woman has the time, means or inclination to make their stories quite as public as those who do so through the internet and social media. Simply providing a safe place and an open mind and heart for somebody to tell you their story is plenty.

Also, encourage all men, young and old, that violence and oppression is always wrong. Perhaps teaching the youth is an easier challenge as they are still forming what they stand for and the type of human they wish to be. 

Oftentimes, older men may have fallen into a societal trap where they think verbally or physically abusing woman is fine, as they have witnessed so many others do it throughout their life. This simply has got to stop. If you have the opportunity to educate somebody about it, please please please do so. 

If not now, when? If not you, who?

It is disheartening that women are habitually referred to in connection with their relationships with others, i.e. somebody's wife, daughter, mother, sister etc. Highlight that each and every woman walking this planet is a human being in her own, singular right and deserves all the respect and entitlement that being a person encompasses. 

This video #DearDaddy popped up on my Facebook feed the other day, and it really moved me about how vulnerable women are and why that vulnerability is undeniably flawed. Being a female should NOT be a weakness. It is a strength. 

There are so many stories being made public now it's mind-boggling. I am happy to live in a world where the voices of the oppressed and victimized are being heard and believed, and I am unhappy to live in a world where there are so many of them that it is almost deafening. One story that really touched me this month and I would like to share is this one by Joy Bryant. 

 

Share the campaign hashtag #orangetheworld to help spread the message. 

#endtheviolenceagainstwomen #endtheviolencefullstop #loveoneanother