On 25 November 1960, three resilient women, known as the Mirabal sisters, paid with their lives for their brave activism against the Trujillo dictatorship and for women’s rights in the Dominican Republic. In commemoration of their deaths 25 November did not only become the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, but eventually also turned into the kick-off of an annual campaign to raise awareness about gender-based violence against women as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international level. Today it is 10 December, International Human Rights Day, and the formal ending of the 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign.
Hope, not fear
For the last 16 days, WILPF has together with partners and women’s rights activists worldwide focused on advocacy and mobilisation to end gender-based violence against women and girls. This year, we took the time to reflect on the struggles, achievements and progress that women face all around the world. Some felt hopeful because of unprecedented movements rising up against gender-based violence and progress on part of the government, others felt anger because of out-dated justice systems and lack of action. But each and everyone felt eager to act to end violence against women.
Additional to our global campaign, together with our partner Women Now for Development, we asked women in Syria what gender-based violence means to them: “You live in a tent, the closest toilet is at the other side of the camp, there are no lights in the camp at night,” one woman answered. In this video, Syrian women shared their stories, talked about their struggles and stated their demands.
The faces of gender-based violence are diverse. It looks like the 14-year-old girl in India, that is being married against her will. It looks like the successful lawyer next door, trying to cover up her bruises before going to work. It looks like the woman in the courtroom, who has to live with the acquittal of her rapists because of outdated laws. It looks like the woman running for office, encountering sexual harassment and coming home to hate mails. But it also looks like all the women that took to the streets during the last 16 days to break the silence about gender-based violence. It looks like you, it looks like me.
While the 16 days of activism are coming to an end, we will not stop our activism. We will not be scared, we will not be silent and we will not back down, until each and every woman can live in peace.