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

Recent women-led movements such as #NiUnaMenos and #MeToo have indeed helped break the long silence surrounding sexual harassment in the world of work on a global scale and forced a conversation about the need to fundamentally transform the power structures and discriminatory norms that enable gender-based violence and discrimination.

-Melissa Upreti, Senior Director, Program and Global Advocacy at Centre for Global Women's Leadership

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Today marks the beginning of 16 Days of Activism, culminating in Human Rights Day on December 10.

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 6,000 organisations worldwide organising around the 16 Days of Activism campaign in over 187 countries.

What’s happening in Victoria this year?

This year’s theme in Victoria is Respect Women: Call It Out encouraging bystander intervention to call out sexism, sexual harassment and disrespect towards women. Respect Victoria, Victoria’s statutory body for the prevention of violence against women, has partnered with the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) and Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) to create resources to get community involved in this year’s theme (see links to their resources below). 

What’s happening globally?

#RatifyILO190 is a central demand of this year’s Global 16 Days Campaign that aims to mobilise women, across movements, to collectively take action in advancing the ratification and implementation of the newly adopted ILO instruments: Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (C190) and Violence and Harassment Recommendation, 2019 (R206). In announcing this year’s demand, the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership stated,

“We believe that supporting and amplifying the leadership and diverse realities of women at the grassroots level worldwide will best ensure these instruments are implemented in a way that will lead to a world of work free from violence for all women, regardless of identity or circumstance, and across all spheres of work, whether paid or unpaid, formal or informal.”

How can you get involved?

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 (the colour of 16 Days of Activism) for her headshot has paid off! #GoOrange

Follow on Twitter @CasimiraMelican or LinkedIn @Casimira Melican 

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Walk Against Family Violence

Walk Against Family Violence

The first Walk Against Family Violence was held in 2008 by a committee of family violence services, local councils and Victoria Police, to raise community awareness of family violence, and its impact within the community. Our aim is to build momentum each year, and encourage Victorians to stand up and speak out against family violence. Family violence impacts every corner of our society and we each have the ability to make changes within our own families, workplaces, schools and communities, to be accountable for our behaviour and to no longer ignore the effects of violence. Join safe steps at Federation Square on 25th November.