International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

by | November 25, 2011
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, Politics

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against women, which kicks off the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Check out last year’s post for more background on the 16 Days campaign and suggestions from organizations like the YWCA, Pixel Project, and and the UN’s Say NO campaign on concrete actions to take over the next 16 days and all year round.

If you’re looking for events in your area, check out the global campaign calendar provided by Rutgers. I know there are some Canadian events missing from the list so if you know of events going on in your community, please post in the comments below.

One neat online event is a project by the Nobel Women’s Initiative to profile activists working to end violence against women worldwide. It’s a chance to get inspired and give recognition to women working on these often thankless and sometimes dangerous campaigns.

Another new thing this year is the launch of a comprehensive violence against women policy agenda by UN Women. You can view the report at the UN Women website and download a 2-page pdf summary here. From the introduction:

“Focusing on the three critical pillars of prevention, protection and provision of services, Ms. Bachelet’s call for action, urges world leaders to mobilize political will and investment to ensure that women can live a life without violence.”

Some of the 16 proposed steps include:

6. Ensure universal access to critical services …
at a minimum, women’s and girls’ emergency and immediate needs should be met through free 24-hour hotlines, prompt intervention for their safety and protection, safe housing and shelter for them and their children, counseling and psycho-social support, post-rape care, and free legal aid to understand their rights and options.

11. Enhance women’s economic empowerment …
by ensuring women’s rights to own land and property, to inheritance, equal pay for equal work, and safe and decent employment. Women’s unequal economic and employment opportunities are a major factor in perpetuating their entrapment in situations of violence, exploitation and abuse.

13. Engage the mass media …
in shaping public opinion and challenging the harmful gender norms that perpetuate violence against women and girls.

15. Mobilize men and boys …
of all ages and walks of life to take a stand against violence against women and girls, and foster equality and gender solidarity.

14. Work for and with young people as champions of change …
to end violence against women, and ensure that educational systems empower girls and boys to transform and build gender relations based on harmony, mutual respect and non-violence.

It’s worth noting the criticism raised by Flavia at Tiger Beatdown, which is that UN Women tends to define violence against women narrowly, not making specific mention of violence against trans women, lesbians and queer women, women with disabilities, or how racism factors in. For example, Flavia points out: “The report also left out the very specific kinds of violence that lesbian and queer women experience. There was not a single mention of corrective rapes, discriminations, murders, attacks or identity erasure. Yet another crucial group is purposefully left out, their struggles removed from the public eye, as if the violence they experience did not happen.”

While I’d say all these components could factor into the overall defined goals of the 16-point plan, not mentioning them specifically is a real problem and can lead to creating an inaccurate and limited definition of the problem of violence against women. Ending violence against women can’t just be about ending violence against cis women or other particular categories. I hope UN Women and other organizations working on the 16 days will take this into account over the rest of the campaign.




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