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16 Days of Global Campaigning against Gender-Based Violence

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.

Image credit: WILPF
WILPF International Secretariat
10 December 2019

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.

Regional Campaigning

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.

 

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WILPF International Secretariat

WILPF International Secretariat, with offices in Geneva and New York, liaises with the International Board and the National Sections and Groups for the implementation of WILPF International Programme, resolutions and policies as adopted by the International Congress. Under the direction of the Secretary-General, the Secretariat also provides support in areas of advocacy, communications, and financial operations.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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Demilitarisation

WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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