Beyond 16 Days: Answering the Call To End Gender-Based Violence

December 11, 2011
Woman Joins Vigil To Protest Violence Against Women

This year during the annual "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence" campaign, we've been highlighting various aspects of gender-based violence on DipNote -- from the economic, health, and legal costs to the potential for increased susceptibility to HIV and sexually-transmitted diseases. But at its core, the 16 Days campaign is about the actions individuals, communities, and nations must take to eliminate gender-based violence. As this year's campaign draws to a close, we wanted to share what we've heard from our colleagues at embassies around the world on how the communities in which they are located are addressing this issue -- from ribbon campaigns to art exhibits to volunteer efforts to raising awareness with young men and boys.

In Rwanda, the embassy organized a panel discussion with young people, including men and boys, about the different aspects of gender-based violence. Their discussion was recorded and edited into a podcast for distribution to local community radio stations across the country. Similarly, women in Fiji used community radio as a platform to discuss domestic violence, child abuse, and child labor, while community leaders in The Bahamas and Ethiopia hosted forums to discuss strategies for working with men and boys and with religious leadership to call for change.

Sometimes discussing difficult topics requires creative approaches. In Lithuania, our embassy hosted a photo exhibit of well-known Lithuanian women transformed to look as if they were affected by domestic violence. In Australia, the "Be the Hero!" project, an innovative, web-based violence prevention program, is encouraging young men to build respectful relationships with women by demonstrating that anyone can be a hero by choosing to live a life free of violence.

We've also heard from individuals around the world who included an action with their discussion. In Afghanistan, many women and men wore a purple ribbon as a sign of solidarity. In Nepal, at six American Corners located across the country, individuals signed pledges to end violence. Meanwhile, high-profile Mozambicans publicly signed their names in commitment to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in their communities.

Here in Washington, the Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues organized a panel discussion exploring the health, economic, and social impacts of violence against women. The panel was moderated by Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer. We also partnered with the Women of the World Foundation, a movement started by Newsweek and Daily Beast to advance women and girls through stories and solutions, to create an online calendar highlighting specific events around the 16 Days campaign as well as the work of different organizations and the private sector to address and prevent violence against women.

Today, International Human Rights Day, marks the end of this year's 16 Days campaign, but violence against women and girls -- as well as against men and boys -- occurs every day of the year. We hope that you, too, will be inspired to take the call for activism beyond these 16 days. In the words of Secretary Clinton, "...Let us use the 16 Days to renew once again our commitment to end the abuse that traps so many women and girls around the world. Let us call out the culture of impunity that perpetuates this cycle of violence. And let us work together, in partnership, to make all forms of violence a thing of the past."

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