International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2017: Leave No One Behind

Safety and Violence , UN Holidays

By: Taylor Galgano

One in three women and girls will experience violence in their lifetime – this is a number that can and must be changed.

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, otherwise known as “Orange Day.” This marks the first day of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, created to inspire change and raise awareness about global gender-based violence (November 25 to December 10, Human Rights Day).

UNiTE, a campaign launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2008, leads the 16 Days of Activism. The campaign utilizes the bright color orange to represent an optimistic and hopeful future without gender-based violence. This year’s theme is “Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls.” The goal is to advocate for all women and girls around the world, especially the most underserved and marginalized groups.

The Facts

Approximately 750 million women and girls are married before the age of 18 throughout the world. In West and Central Africa, where child marriage is common, 40% of girls were married before they turned 18. Child marriage can be detrimental to a girl’s future, as it leads to early child birth, lack of education and opportunities, and an increased likelihood of domestic abuse.

In addition, 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation. Most of these girls were cut before their fifth birthday. This procedure has no benefits, and typically causes severe bleeding, urinating issues, and many future health complications for women and girls.

Women and girls also make up 71% of the global human trafficking population, in which 3 out of 4 women and girls trafficked are sexually exploited.

Furthermore, approximately 1 in 10 women and girls worldwide have been forced into sexual intercourse or other sexual activities. With the recent #metoo campaign and movement of numerous survivors in the mainstream media coming forward in our own country, it is clear that Orange Day is just as important in the U.S. 1 in 6 women and girls in the U.S have been sexually assaulted, leading to STDs, risk of pregnancy, substance abuse problems, and a variety of mental health issues.

Although these human rights violations are prevalent today, the mission to end violence against women and girls can be achieved. One of the main issues with preventing gender-based violence is funding. The Sustainable Development Goals specifically address preventing violence against women and girls, but need to be efficiently funded to be successful. Many people are also unaware or will look the other way when presented with the facts about gender-based violence.

How You Can Help

So… let your voice be heard this Orange Day!

  • Empower and support any survivor that discloses to you. Let them know you are there and that you care for them.
  • Engage your government by reaching out to your leaders about your plans to “orange” your community. You can encourage your leaders to “orange” their government buildings.
  • Encourage your government leaders to come up with a specific funding plan in the 16 Days for gender-based violence prevention.
  • Invite private businesses and companies to sponsor organizations you support like Girl Up.
  • Urge your government representatives to wear orange to spread awareness for the 16 Days.
  • Make orange posters, screens, etc for your local community.
  • Organize an “Orange March” through your town or city to raise money.
  • Organize other fundraising activities for Girl Up, UN Women and UNiTE.
  • Reach out to local fundraisers in your community that focus on gender-based violence prevention and volunteer your time and skills.

Whatever it is that you do, make sure you recognize November 25 as International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Even if it’s a simple social media post  about this day, it can create a big impact.

Taylor Galgano is a fall intern supporting digital communications for Girl Up.