16 Days of Activism

Today marks the start of the UN’s 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. During this period, we want to put a spotlight on activists and organisations around the world who are using creative forms of resistance to campaign against gender-based violence. In 2015, nations came together and committed to achieving the Global Goals by 2030. One of the 17 Goals is achieving gender equality without which we won’t achieve any of the Goals.

COVID-19 has shed a light on existing gender inequalities and has also seen a sharp increase in violence against women and girls especially domestic abuse. But despite the pandemic, activists around the world have been continuing their efforts towards making gender equality a reality for everyone, everywhere.

We have partnered with Emmy nominated documentary-makers, Horne Productions to shed light on the inspiring work of some of these inspiring individuals and organisations and will be sharing three films as well as creative assets to bring their stories to life:

  • In France, a collective of women – Les Colleureuses (The Gluers) – are plastering simple black and white posters with powerful slogans in public spaces to raise awareness of domestic violence and honour the victims and ensuring their names are not forgotten.
  • The Patchwork Healing Blanket is an organisation in Mexico that is creating a public art piece to shed a light on violence against women, children and our planet. The initiative was originally for women from Mexico and the US and now, women from around the world join to create fabric patches which are stitched together to make one living art piece. This will continue to grow for as long as violence against women exists.
  • Philisa Abafazi Bethu SA is an organisation fighting for the rights of women and girls in South Africa. In this video, poet Koleka Putuma's moving words serve as a reminder that 365 days a year, women in South Africa, and all over the world, have the right to be safe and live without fear of violence.
  • Tony Mwebia is a gender equality advocate in Kenya who focuses his efforts on ending female genital mutilation (FGM) through, #MenEndFGM, which mobilises men from around the world to right against FGM, child marriage and other harmful cultural practices.
  • Seyi Akiwowo is the Founder and Director of Fix the Glitch, a not for profit in the UK campaigning to end online abuse and ensuring online spaces serve as a safe arena for everyone, particularly women and girls.
  • Lina Khalifeh from Jordan founded SheFighter in 2010, the first women-only self-defence studio in the Middle East. Since then, the organisation has now expanded to more than 35 countries.

Take action

We all have a responsibility to take action and help achieve the Global Goals. Here are a few simple steps you could take to empower women and promote gender equality.

  1. Fund the activists working on the frontlines: many of the organisations above have individual efforts you can support or consider donating through organisations like the Five Foundation or Global Fund for Women.
  2. Follow the activists and organisations shared in this article and share their work with others.
  3. Start a conversation about violence against women with those around you to help raise awareness.
  4. Join UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign.
  5. Educate and empower the younger generation so that they grow-up knowing the harms violence against women and girls inflicts and the benefits of gender equality.
  6. Support organisations and campaigns in your country or local area that are helping to end violence against women and girls. For example, the Stand to End Rape Initiative in Nigeria, ActionAid in India, Plan International in the UK and the National Organisation for Women (NOW) in the US.