Violence against women and girls remains one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world. Globally, an estimated 736 million women, almost 1 in 3, have been subjected to physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their lives.
This has intensified in different settings, including the workplace and online spaces, and has been exacerbated by post-pandemic effects, conflicts, and climate change. The solution lies in strong responses, including investment in prevention.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women will mark the launch of the UNiTE campaign (November 25- December 10) — an initiative of 16 days of activism concluding on the day commemorating International Human Rights Day, December 10. This 2023 campaign will call on everyone to show how much they care about ending violence against women and girls and call on governments worldwide to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention. Join the global movement with the #NoExcuse slogan calling for urgent investments to prevent violence against women and girls.
On average, a woman in Australia is killed by a man they know every 10 days. It doesn't have to be this way. Primary prevention of violence against women is about changing the underlying social conditions that produce and drive this violence, that excuse, justify or even promote it – and prevent it from occurring in the first place. Violence against women is preventable if we change the culture that allows it to happen.
The drivers of this violence are well documented, which means together, we can challenge these social conditions to prevent violence from happening in the first place. Efforts to prevent violence against women must be inclusive of all women. This means First Nations women, women from migrant, refugee and culturally diverse backgrounds, women with disabilities, women from all socioeconomic backgrounds, older women and young women, as well as trans and queer women.
1 in 2 (47%) of adults with disability have experienced violence since the age of 15 in Australia. Women with disabilities experience all types of violence at higher rates, with increased severity and for longer than other women (according to Australian Government statistics).
• 1 in 4 (25% or 748,000) women with disability have experienced sexual violence after the age of 15, compared with 15% (or 978,000) without disability
• 2 in 5 (40% or 1.2 million) women with disability have experienced physical violence after the age of 15, compared with 26% (or 1.7 million) without disability
It can be daunting at times thinking of ways to support and be involved in days like this. Here are some simple ways to be involved in the 16 days of activism campaign.
1. Be an ally and listen openly, without judgment and learn.
2. Call out bad behaviour when you see it.
3. Discuss the link between masculinity and health and engage with boys and men. Men are often told to be tough, in control, and the primary carer. These attitudes not only affect the mental health of men and boys but can drive violence against women.
4. Never sideline women’s voices and concerns.
5. Push for accountability when media report on violence against women. The media has an influential role to play when writing about instances of violence against women. There is a link between media reporting and societal attitudes. The words chosen can fall in line with the current social discourse of victim blaming and excuses given for the perpetrator, or the media can choose words that call for accountability for the actions of perpetrators. Email media outlets when you see unbalanced reporting.
Check out the Respect Victoria 16 days of activism against gendered-based violence toolkit for more ways to show your support.
We must unite, change attitudes, and engage with boys and men to lead social change. Yes, there needs to be more money and resources placed into support and services for women and girls experiencing violence, but we must put an equal focus on prevention. Be an ally this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and join the UNiTE Campaign.
If you need help with any issues raised in this article, please reach out to services for help:
If you are in immediate danger - Police and Ambulance 000
1800 RESPECT - https://www.1800respect.org.au/
Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800 - https://kidshelpline.com.au/
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 - https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Lifeline 13 11 14 - https://www.lifeline.org.au/
13 Yarn 13 92 76 - https://www.13yarn.org.au/
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978 - https://mensline.org.au/
White Ribbon Australia - https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/