Photo Courtesy: DFID
Photo Courtesy: DFID, Creative Commons

Today is the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women. All over the world, women, men and children are taking a stand to declare that women deserve to live free from all forms of violence. As the world comes together to show support for women, the harsh reality is that one in three will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. This happens in all communities, both rural and urban. Violence against women occurs in schools, in homes, churches, and on street corners across the globe. No woman is immune to the threat of violence.

This must STOP.

In 2009, UN Women launched the Say NO-Unite campaign. The campaign engages people from all walks of life to focus on raising awareness and making public declarations to end violence against women. The growing global coalition unites individuals, governments, organizations and the private sector with the common goal to fight violence against women and girls. Say NO-Unite utilizes both on the ground engagement as well as new media to rally communities and nations. To date, over 5 million people have signed a petition to make ending violence against women a global priority.

Beginning today until December 10th, in coordination with 16 days of Activism, people in villages, towns and cities across the world will be displaying the color orange as a symbol  to end violence against women and girls.

In Egypt, campaigns calling for an end to violence have begun to engage students at universities. Recently, girls took part in a bike ride to raise awareness about sexual violence. Other students have created human chains and bumper sticker campaigns to raise awareness about sexual harassment. In Rwanda, a group of men started an organization called the Rwandan Men’s Resource Center (RWAMREC). RWAMREC initiated a campaign to train men to change negative and violent behavior. The campaign participants meet people at the local level to discuss gender-based violence. To date, over 3,000 local leaders have been trained.

As a young woman with a passion for fighting injustice and empowering women, these stories inspire me. Over the past several years, I have had incredible opportunities to sit, listen and learn from many courageous women. As I have had the opportunity to work with women and girls in the United States, Africa and India, I think about stories like Xian who was trafficked from China to New York City or Rasha in India who suffered extreme abuse at the hands of family and strangers. Marble floors, rural villages, mud huts, comfortable couches, airplanes, offices—it is within these varied scenes that stories of rape, exploitation, and extreme abuse take place.

It is their stories that propel me to action.

Today I stand up and say NO for Xian and Rasha. I say NO for mothers, friends, daughters and women all over the world who suffer and have suffered from violence. I say NO because I am a woman who believes that all women should be free to live without fear.

Today I wear orange because…

“Women and girls deserve to live free from violence.”

Why will you wear orange?

Tweet Us @GirlsGlobe

Follow the campaign on Twitter @SayNO_UNiTE and 16 Days of Activism.

Cover Photo Credit: Gigi Ibrahim, Creative Commons

The Conversation

9 Responses

  1. In Geelong, Australia, the football team promotes the message of anti – violence against women by handing out orange coloured shoe laces to all the boys at the local schools. Whenever they feel angry and want to hit out at their sisters, their mothers,their female friends … The orange shoelaces act as an instant visual reminder that they must not. It is a simple message that certainly has worked at this young age (5 – 12 year old boys).

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