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Activism against Gender-Based Violence: An Orange Campaign

By Gwilym Roberts-Harry

The ECOSOC Council was dressed in orange on 21 November 2016 for a special event titled Orange the World: Raise Money to end Violence Against Women. This was an opening event in preparation for the the UNiTE 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, symbolically named to link the 25 November (International Day Against Violence Against Women) and 10 December (International Human Rights Day). This global initiative seeks to raise awareness; to provide a forum for dialogue; and to pressure governments to implement national and international legal instruments regarding violence against women.

The UN Women organised event was moderated by Co-Anchor of ABC News Nightline, Ms. Juju Chang, and attended by UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon. UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Phumzile Miambo-Ngcuka, told the orange-robed participants that “The extent to which violence is embedded in society means that uprooting it is also a job for all of society. That includes men and women, the media and the religious community. We can work together to address the inequality and prejudice that enable and inflame violence against women and girls.” A number of speakers, including Ms. Aiturgan Djoldoschbekova, a UN Trust Fund programme participant, stated that funding was still a real barrier towards progress.

Are you aware that:

  • Globally, 70% of women report having experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner. In some countries, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims.

  • It is estimated that only 11% of women who experience sexual violence report it.

  • Over 700 million women alive today were married as children.

  • Violence against women has significant economic costs. Internationally, intimate partner violence represents 3.7% of GDP, which is more than what governments spend on primary education.

The origins of the Campaign date back to 1991 when the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, based at Rutgers School of Art and Sciences, convened the Women’s Global Leadership Institute (WGLI). The intention was to bring 23 international participants together along with their broad range of expertise to build bridges across cultures, to learn from different experiences, and to link strategies globally. This in turn led to the creation of the global women’s human rights movement. The UN General Assembly subsequently designated 25 November as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women [A/RES/54/134] in 1999.

“From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All” is the theme for the 2016 Campaign, and this year happens to be its 25th anniversary. The visual orange element of the Campaign has attracted approximately 6,000 organizations, policymakers, governments, UN agencies and countless individuals from over 180 countries worldwide. Various international landmarks have been lit in orange including the Berlaymont building housing the European Commission HQ, the Angel of Independence in Mexico City & the Nativity Church in Bethlehem. The orange social media campaign has also been successful with large numbers of individuals posting photographs along with statistics on Facebook, as well as Twitter users adopting an orange Twibbon to show support through their profile picture. On the more unusual side of things, grassroots events such as the orange-clad female motorcycle riders riding in convoy in Egypt have also highlighted the cause.

For those of you wanting to take part, it’s not too late. This is a campaign which will continue to gather moment even after the 16 Days. The United Nations Official Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women will take place on 21 November between 10am and 12pm EST. Join the call to action by downloading the Take Action Toolkit and by raising awareness on social media using the hashtags below.

Take Action Toolkit:


Social Media:

Further Reading:





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