A special day — but not one to celebrate

25 November 2013
We like to celebrate anniversaries and special days in our blogs and facebook feeds. Well today is a special day, but not one to celebrate. It’s the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. However, equally importantly, it’s the first day of 16 days of action opposing violence against women. The 16 Days Campaign seeks to draw attention to, and raise awareness of, the reality of domestic violence while pushing for a change to prevent such abuse. The UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an obvious starting date. The 10th of December, when the days of action officially (but not, we hope, unofficially) come to a close is UN Human Rights Day. The two days are clearly linked in a campaign that seeks to highlight that violence against women is an assault on their human rights. The statistics — in both the developed and developing world — emphasise the still high levels of abuse, violence and rape perpetrated against women, ranging from the staggering number (one in three) of girls who will be married as a child bride before the age of 18, to the 125 million girls and women who have suffered female genital mutilation, to the one in five women who will experience domestic violence during their lifetime. That last statistic comes from Ireland, by the way; the problem is close to home for most countries and many women. Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director, has said that solutions need to be comprehensive and multifold, from schools that teach respect for all, to better access to economic opportunities and justice for women, to more women in peacekeeping and political roles. In Ireland, domestic violence services, Rape Crisis Centres, Community Development Projects, Family Resource Centres, SAFE Ireland, Women’s Aid and other groups actively support the campaign and are holding awareness-raising events throughout the country during the 16 Days of Action. You can find resources (and much more information) at http://www.womensaid.ie and many of the Irish sites mentioned above, as well as https://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/. As we said, you won't want to celebrate - but we do hope you can get involved.