By Maham Abbasi, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, TIO :
Today is the United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, an occasion to raise public awareness of violence against women for governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations.
In a big blow this year, the UN has called for ending gender-based violence with the 2020 campaign theme, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect”. The primary focus is on bridging the funding gaps to ensure essential services for the survivors of violence during the ongoing pandemic. Like every year, a 16-day campaign is launched today against Gender-Based Violence (GVB) which will conclude on the 10th of December, the International Human Rights Day. The UN Women is working jointly with violence survivors, activists, and people from all walks of life to fund, reach-out, and respond faster.
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It is a special day, billions of people all over the world believing in an equal world for all.
On November 25, 1960, three sisters, Patria Mercedes Mirabal, María Argentina Minerva Mirabal, and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal, were assassinated in the Dominican Republic on the orders of the Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo. The Mirabel sisters fought hard to end Trujillo’s dictatorship. On the death anniversary of the three strong women, women’s rights activists have observed this day against violence since 1981.
On December 17, 1999, November 25 was announced as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the UN General Assembly. Each year observances around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women concentrate on a particular theme.
Several public events are being coordinated for this year’s International Day. Iconic buildings and landmarks will be ‘oranged’ to recall the need for a violence-free future.
As per the United Nations Report, violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world. Instances of such violence largely go unreported and remain hidden because of the stigma surrounding it. The campaign aims to spread awareness about the issue.
For the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, the UN Women is featuring some of the leaders and ground breakers who added their voices to UN Women’s Generation Equality movement, and take action to fight violence against women and girls.
Let’s look to some of the powerful women activists who have been the change they wished to see in this world, oh and don’t forget to raise your glasses!
Vanina Escales, Argentina
Vanina Escales is a journalist and activist from Argentina. She got fed up with daily news about murdered women and the passive response to the gender-based killing of women. Together, Vanina and her fellow writers and journalists founded Ni Una Menos (Not One Less), a cultural, political, and social movement that swept across Latin America and the world.
With a simple, clear message, Ni Una Menos gave visibility to the economic, physical, and sexual violence, as well as the everyday sexism in households.
“I believe in activism. We do it for those who are no longer here. We go out into the streets for those who died, those who died fighting for the rights that we still don’t have, and those who died without the opportunity of defending themselves,” says Vanina. “Gender-based violence and sexual violence are embedded in power relations…with power anchored in hegemonic masculinities. Sexual crimes are crimes of power, and rape is part of the pedagogy with which a patriarchal moral order is maintained.”
Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Thailand
Cindy Sirinya Bishop is a Thai supermodel, actor, TV host, and activist, and UN Women Regional Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific. She uses her voice and platforms to challenge social attitudes around sexual violence and the treatment of victims.
“When I saw a newspaper headline about how officials were telling women how to dress, I started using my social media platform to speak out against the idea that what women wear could be the reason for sexual assault,” Cindy says. “I became an activist to champion initiatives that raise awareness about the real causes of gender-based violence and to talk about how as ordinary citizens we can all be agents of change.”
In collaboration with UN Women, Cindy created the exhibition and social media campaign #Donttellmehowtodress, to emphasize the importance of everyday actions in ending sexual violence against women.
Tina Musuya, Uganda
Tina Musuya first noticed how girls and boys were treated differently within her own family. She saw that only the girls were washing dishes and cooking food.
“I didn’t like this at all; I refused to do all the domestic chores and demanded that the boys, my brothers, should do the domestic chores too,” she says. As an adult, Tina is the Executive Director for Uganda’s Centre for Domestic Violence Prevention and a strong advocate for ending gender-based violence.
“There is a pressing need to create a safer world for women to thrive in their private and public lives,” Tina says. “We must address violence against women, including intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and violence, and exploitation, female genital mutilation, and cyber-bullying.”
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Racha Haffar, Tunisia
Racha Haffar, a member of UN Women’s Generation Equality Youth Task Force, first learned about the dangers of human-trafficking when she applied for jobs as an au-pair in England. Families would reply saying they were interested in hiring her, but wouldn’t send more information about themselves and the job. She researched more and realized how many girls and women ended up being victims of trafficking through similar schemes.
“I was privileged, I had access to education and internet,” Racha says. “But millions of girls are living in the dark, especially in rural areas where there’s no access to internet and they don’t even know the risks.”
Racha focused her studies on the issue of trafficking of women and in 2016 founded the first anti-trafficking organization in Tunisia, Not 4 Trade.
“The biggest problem of human trafficking is the lack of awareness. Every day, you may be crossing paths with a victim, but you can’t identify her because you don’t know how to read the signs. Many survivors I met knew something bad had happened to them, but they didn’t have a name for it,” Racha says. “Human trafficking should be a topic that’s taught in schools, it should be talked about in the news. It is one of the most profitable crimes and the numbers are rising.”
Change comes from within, be the change you want to see! These women believed in themselves and in the idea of equality, they worked towards seeking it and are collectively working towards making our world a better place for women. Cheers to you sheroes!
Compiled and Curated by Maham Abbasi and Humra Kidwai.