November 25th is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The date was chosen in July 1981, at the first Feminist Conference for Latin American and Caribbean Women in Bogota as an annual day of protest in memory of Patria, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabel. The women at this conference recognised and condemned what is now known as the continuum of violence against women and girls: from domestic violence, street harassment to state sanctioned torture of women.
This is the reality of violence against women and girls in the UK: two women each week are murdered by their current or former partners; 1 in 3 women will experience domestic and sexual abuse; domestic violence has the highest rate of repeat victimisation of any crime and the lowest rate of reporting to police; 85 000 women experience sexual violence every year in England and Wales; and conviction rates for rape are the lowest of any kind of crime.
The International Day for the Eliminations of Violence against Women kicks off 16 days of global activism. Here are 16 ways that individuals can participate and support these global campaigns against structural and systemic violence against women and girls.
2. Donate £1 to your local service providers supporting women who are living with domestic and sexual violence and abuse. BME women's services have been disproportionately impacted by so-called 'austerity' so please don't forget them.
3. Share fundraisers for women's services across social media. We understand that many women cannot afford to donate £1. Sharing fundraisers is just as essential as being able to donate £1.
4. Host a coffee morning for your friends to raise money.
5. Bring some baked goods into work and ask for donations to a service of your choice from your co-workers.
6. Collect clothing, bedding and any other unused household items to donate to your local refuge or those support services for women who are homeless, living in poverty etc.
7. Donate toys to a local refuge for children who will be living in them at Christmas or those support services for women who are homeless or living in poverty.
8. Donate new toiletries and another nice gifts for teenage girls and women living in refuges.
9. Make a donation to your local food bank. All women are disproportionately impacted by poverty and austerity measures. Women living with domestic violence are more vulnerable due to cuts to housing benefit and specialist women's services, as well as the implementation of universal credit.
10. Donate sanitary products to food banks.These are essential for women and teenage girl's access to education and work.
11. Write to your local councillors, MP, or MSP to demand ring-fenced funding for women's specialist services, including those for BME women or those with disabilities. You can find the address and contact details of your local councillors, MPs, MSPs, and MEPs via WriteToThem.
12. Write to local councillors, MP, MEP, or MSP and ask them to undergo training in domestic and sexual violence and abuse from specialist organisations.
13. Write to your MP and MSP demanding they support the campaigns to end the detention of refugee women and children.
14. Write to your MP and MSP demanding mandatory sex and healthy relationships education in schools, as well as campaigns to make schools safer for girls.
15. File complaints with media about inappropriate, misleading and offensive coverage of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.
16. And, if you're a man, stand up for women's rights. Challenge men who make rape jokes. Recognise that refusing to financially support children constitutes child abuse. Insist your employer implement the equal pay legislation. Donate money to rape crisis centres and refuges. Wearing a white ribbon isn't enough. You need to walk the walk as well and hold other men accountable for their language and actions.
Violence against women and girls may be systemic, but there are ways for individuals to stand up and be counted in the campaign to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Will you be one of these people?