Every year from November 25 – December 10, we observe the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Marking its 30th anniversary in 2021, this global campaign is an opportunity to speak up and call out for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. During these 16 days, governments, international organizations and NGO’s are encouraged to organize activities intended to raise awareness of gender-based violence and its impact on individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole.
What Are The 16 Days?
The campaign begins on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25), which was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999. The date was chosen to commemorate the lives of the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic who were violently assassinated in 1960.
The campaign runs for 16 days until December 10 on World Human Rights Day – the day, in 1948, on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In Canada, we also observe the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6, remembering the women who were murdered during the tragic mass shooting at Polytechnique Montréal on that day in 1989.
What Is Gender-Based Violence?
Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence against a person because of their gender, gender expression, gender identity or perceived gender. GBV frequently manifests as Violence Against Women (VAW), and disproportionately affects women, girls, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. People who face additional discrimination and barriers, including people with disabilities, Indigenous people, racialized people, trans and non-binary people, immigrants, and people experiencing homeless, are at highest risk of GBV.
GBV can take many forms including physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal or emotional abuse, financial abuse, social abuse, spiritual/religious abuse, and harassment and/or stalking. GBV can happen between intimate partners, family members, colleagues, friends, acquaintances and strangers, although it often occurs in private places between people who know each other.
When people experience GBV at home, there can be many barriers to leaving and it can take many attempts. Shelter Movers supports survivors of GBV by providing free moving and storage services to people fleeing abuse.
How Can I Help?
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign challenges individuals and groups around the world to raise awareness of GBV as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels by creating conversations, tools, and strategies to pressure governments and other organizations to implement commitments to eliminate gender-based violence against women.
Here are some ways you participate in the 16 Days campaign and call for the elimination of all forms of GBV:
Join the conversation on social media
Take part in observing significant dates
- November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
- Wear purple to raise awareness about GBV. Take a photo and share it on social media using the hashtag #16Days.
- December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
- Wear a white ribbon to honour the 14 women who were murdered at Polytechnique Montréal.
- Observe a moment of silence at 11:00 am to honour the victims of the Polytechnique Montréal tragedy.
- Attend a (virtual) vigil to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.
Be an Ally
- Educate yourself and others on GBV and its impacts on individuals, families, communities and society.
- Listen to the stories of survivors and people who experience GBV. Make sure they know you believe them and that it is not their fault.
- Speak out against GBV and speak up when you hear others make light or joke about GBV.