16 days of activism against gender-based violence

By Jackie Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner

Since 1991, women’s rights activists from around the world have come together for 16 days in November and December to raise awareness about gender-based violence, show solidarity with fellow activists around the world, and take action!

What is gender-based violence?

Gender-based violence is violence directed at a person because of their gender. Due to the disproportionate number of women and girls who face domestic violence, sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment, trafficking, forced prostitution, and harmful practices, ‘16 days’ focuses on women and girls.

Why 16 days?

The activist calendar is packed with significant dates related to gender-based violence in the 16 days from November 25th to December 10th.

  • November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
  • November 29: International Women Human Rights Defenders Day
  • December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
  • December 10: Human Rights Day

What can I do?

Write a letter in support of women in Sudan, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt:

SUDAN: repeal law on “indecent” clothing
SYRIA/JORDAN: ensure safety for refugee women and girls
EGYPT: stop sexual violence

As part of our Write for Rights letter-writing marathon, take action on the case of Miriam Lopez of Mexico.

Share our letter-writing actions on social media using the hashtag #16Days

On Monday, November 25 at 10:00 EST, join a live Facebook chat with Amnesty International experts based in London about sexual and gender-based violence and what Amnesty International is doing to help end this violence.

Take part in “16 days” events in your community. Promote women’s rights issues during other human rights-related events being held during these 16 days.

Join our Facebook group on women’s rights to stay up to date on the latest news and actions, or follow us on Twitter.

Background: What’s the focus of this year’s ‘16 days’ actions?

Amnesty International is focusing on sexual violence during and after conflict, and violence perpetrated by state actors.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are common in armed conflict and sometimes used as a tactic during conflicts to create fear and punish victims and their communities. Sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations reinforces gendered and political hierarchies and remains one of the major barriers to women’s safety. The fear of sexual violence affects women’s ability to travel or move around freely and have a significant impact on wellbeing.

In places where there is no recognized conflict, militarized violence against civilians by uniformed personnel remains common practice. Individuals in positions of authority may believe they can commit crimes with impunity. There are often high rates of sexual violence within the military, threats by police to women reporting cases of violence, violations committed by peacekeeping forces, and violence against women and girls living and working in close proximity to military bases.

What rights are violated?

Gender-based violence violates a whole range of fundamental human rights including but not limited to the right to life; the right not to be subject to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; the right to equal protection according to humanitarian norms in time or international or internal armed conflict; the right to liberty and security of person; the right to equal protection under the law; the right to equality in the family; and the right to the highest standard attainable of physical and mental health.

What is Amnesty International calling for?

  • Perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence must be held to account.
  • Survivors of sexual violence in conflict situations should have full and equal access to prompt and effective reparations.
  • Women and girls must not be targeted with sexual and gender-based violence during protests and detention.

Amnesty International supports and shows solidarity to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and women human rights defenders who are working to end sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls.