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What is 16 Days of Activism and how can you get involved?

“Violence against women and girls has many faces. One does not have to look far to see these faces, they are all around us. It takes the will to see. It takes the courage to speak up against. It takes the strength to fight against. But inaction is not good enough anymore.”

Ewelina U. Ochab

November 25 is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This is an important date marking the beginning of 16 Days of Activism, culminating in Human Rights Day on December 10. This year’s theme is ‘Leave No One Behind: End Violence Against Women & Girls’.

The seed of the idea to raise awareness around violence against women and girls started in 1991 at the Women’s Global Leadership Institute. It was there that 23 female civil society leaders from all over the world decided they wanted to spark international action on the issue and build connections that would enable countries to work together to eliminate gender violence worldwide. This grassroots idea has translated into more than 5,167 organisations worldwide organising around the 16 Days of Activism campaign in over 187 countries.

Celebrations around the 16 Days have often become opportunities to launch new initiatives towards ending violence against women. In 2015, the Canadian Government launched their strategy to address and end gender-based violence called “It’s Time” while last year religious leaders in Albania signed a joint declaration to act against the global pandemic of violence against women for the first time. Other celebrations use art or performance to highlight the issue like a photo exhibition in Kosovo taken by youth aged 14 to 20 years and portray their personal heroes and heroines for gender equality who fight to achieve a more equal society in their everyday lives.

16 Days of Activism is all about getting involved in your community. By coming together on this important issue, we will begin to move forward. Here are some ways you can get involved:

We can all do something, no matter how small, to help eliminate violence against women and girls.

Lastly, remember that your health and well being are much more important than any activism work. If you are feeling burnt out, reach out!

Contact any of these  support services if you, or anyone you know needs someone to talk to:

SAFE STEPS For confidential support and information call 1800 015 188 family violence response line 24/7.

MEN’S REFERRAL SERVICE (MRS) – 1300 766 491 MRS provides anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals to men, to help them take action to stop using violent and controlling behaviour. 

KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800 Kids Helpline is a counselling service for Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years. 24/7 phone and online services. 

MENS LINE – 1300 78 99 78 Professional support and information service for Australian men. 24/7 phone and online services. 

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS ONLINE1800 050 321 (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 10am-4pm) provides all families (whether together or separated) with access to information about family relationship issues, ranging from building better relationships to dispute resolution.

1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732 The national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 24/7 phone and online services. 

Feature image design by Sinéad Murphy of Lovelock studio with support from Warrnambool City Council and Warrnambool Art Gallery.


Casimira Melican
Casimira Melican is the lead policy researcher at the Victorian Women’s Trust and a regular contributor to the VWT blog. She has co-written submissions to the Victorian and Federal Governments on diverse topics such as women’s superannuation, paid parental leave and women’s leadership. As you can see, she is pretty pleased that her choice of wearing orange for her headshot has paid off! #GoOrange

Follow on Twitter @CasimiraMelican or LinkedIn @Casimira Melican