November 25, 2014 was the official United Nations International Day to End Violence Against Women.
This day is set aside to call on world governments, activists, and UN agencies to partner and bring an end to what I personally feel is one of the greatest tragedies of our time: violence against women and girls.
Our global community is also amid 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. November 25, 2014 until December 10, 2014 (Human Rights Day) are the days set aside every year to hold awareness events and calls for ending violence against women everywhere. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s UNiTE to End Violence Campaign has invited the global community to “Orange YOUR Neighbourhood” by using the color orange in our communities from this day (November 25) to December 10, 2014. There is a toolkit available to use in planning your advocacy events. The toolkit outlines a theme for each of the 16 days of activism.
Global violence against women and girls is a pandemic. The human dignity of women and girls around the world has been compromised by way of human trafficking, rape and murder during periods of armed conflict, intimate partner and non-partner violence in the home, sexual assault, sexual harassment, child endangerment, kidnappings, lack of access to health and social services and in many, many other ways. The woman and girl child have been marginalized and disenfranchised in education, politics and economic development and every other area where men and women participate in our global society. Somehow, some way there is the message that the lives of women and girls are not as valuable.
We are in a new era.
We can make the difference.
We can improve the quality of life and honor the sacred dignity of women and girls worldwide.
There are many civil society organizations actively working together alongside the United Nations, United Nations Agencies and world governments to advocate for concrete, sustainable changes to the laws, policies and customs of nations to ensure the protection of women and girls.
The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The United States has signed, but not yet ratified this international treaty. Iran, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tonga are countries that have not signed onto, nor ratified this treaty.
The United States 110th Congress has proposed the International Violence Against Women Act in order for the U.S. to address violence against women in its foreign policy. It has yet to be passed, however, we can work together to support the passing of this bill.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Half The Sky Movement, MenEngage, International Rescue Committee, SASHA Center of Detroit, and many international and domestic organizations partner to bring awareness, resources and support for change in our communities worldwide.
World governments have enacted their own domestic laws to protect women and girls – for example the United States has enacted the 1994 Violence Against Women’s Act.
Powerful women in our communities that continue to be leaders in the fight to end violence against women and girls. I am very proud to know women like Kelly Mays and Professor Kalimah Johnson. These women are champions for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. I know many many more women doing great work in our communities.
Dynamic men in our communities that are our allies. Men can be a very strong voice in ending global violence against women and girls. Why? Because men can hold other men accountable when there is gender based violence in the home, school, work place, etc. Men can speak out against injustices and make a world of difference. There are men that DO speak out against injustices against women and girls and continue to make a world of difference. I am proud to know men like my friend Victor Billione Walker and so many others working to make a difference.
We, the global community must work to continuously implement and enforce the laws we enact in our home countries. We must work together to not only enact, implement, and enforce laws; we must also work to end certain standards, practices and cultural beliefs that subjugate women and girls in our communities.
I salute those working hard in our communities to end violence against women.
I long for and hope for the day when all women and girls in our world can walk, live, breathe and feel safe and free from violence.
We can make this happen.