16 days of activism

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On its website, the UN Women has highlighted the global theme ‘Orange the world: Fund, respond, prevent, collect!’ to mark 16 days of activism against gender-based violence which starts today.

It is amplifying the call for global action to bridge gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve lifesaving services for women and girls.

UN Women stated the campaign is part of its efforts for Beijing+25 and building up to launch bold new actions and commitments to end violence against women at the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico and France in 2021.

Even before COVID-19 hit, it stated, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions. Globally, it stated, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year.

Less than 40 per cent of women who experienced violence reported it, or sought help. It stated that as countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified and in some countries, calls to helplines increased fivefold.

In others, it stated, formal reports of domestic violence decreased as survivors found it harder to seek help and access support through regular channels.

School closures, it stated, and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.

Although the voices of activists and survivors, it stated, had reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women would require more investment, leadership and action.

This, it stated, could not be sidelined. It must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.

Today starts the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, marking the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence Campaign.

This officially ends on December 10. In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

The 16 days offer us a great opportunity to relook at how we address the issue of violence against women and girls in Fiji.

The Fiji Times joins the campaign to encourage people to be aware of gender-based violence. Being aware is the first step.

Then we should appreciate and understand the impact of violence on the lives of affected people, and make an effort to change the mindset.

Together we can make a difference!

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