According to the United Nations, globally 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence and often at the hands of a partner or family member. This is not just something happening somewhere else, in somebody else's family. It is everywhere and everybody needs to be concerned about it.
This is why 25th November is observed by the United Nations as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to provide a much needed platform for women's rights organisation to raise usually hidden issues. Rape, sexual assault, domestic violence and harmful practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage are often considered taboo so that those affected feel shame and have nowhere to turn for support.
So does having a UN backed day of focus on ending violence against women do any good? Yes it does. Today is a time for those of us who campaign on these issues throughout the year to take stock and look at what has been achieved as well as what needs to be done. There will be events across the world bringing together survivors, activists and many others who can be inspired by each other. Today we can encourage people who might not otherwise do so to take action on this. Each individual action, whether signing a petition, attending a rally or offering direct support to someone in need makes a difference and collectively we can make the world safer for all girls and women.
Reading news reports and hearing of the devastating effect of violence on so many girls and women it is easy to feel overwhelmed and that we are helpless. However at 28 Too Many we hear incredible and uplifting stories every day of people overcoming personal hardships and/or reaching out to help others.
This year it has been a privilege to work with and support some inspiring youth led organisations. In Kenya, the Maasai Cricket Warriors are leading change towards gender equality and ending FGM in their community using the status they have gained through their sport. They are now the stars of a feature length documentary, WARRIORS, and are reaching out to a global audience with their message of hope. 28 Too Many are also partnering with Kids Come First to run anti-FGM training for young people in The Gambia. This week we will help train 50 youth leaders who will then go on to run training camps raising awareness of FGM amongst young people and increasing engagement on this issue across the community. Organisations like these across the world are making a difference every day. They are small, run by volunteers with very limited resources and yet they are doing amazing work empowering young people. Today's young activists are tomorrow's leaders and our hope for a better future.
So this year, be inspired by the brave young people who are standing up for themselves and others. Remember your own youthful optimism and join them in taking action. It is up to all of us to make the world fairer and safer for everyone.
Ann-Marie Wilson founded 28 Too Many in 2010, a charity working to end FGM and protect future generations of girls. Please visit www.28toomany.org for more information.