Uniting Against Violence: Empowering Communities during #16Days

*Trigger warning – domestic violence, abuse, sexual assault*

The #16Days campaign, initiated by the United Nations, stands as a powerful call to action against gender-based violence. From November 25 to December 10, 2023, individuals and organisations worldwide unite to raise awareness and work towards eliminating violence against women and girls. This year’s theme, “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls,” emphasises the importance of collective efforts to build a safer world.

Understanding the Urgency:

Highlighting the gravity of the issue, recent statistics in the UK reveal alarming numbers of domestic abuse-related crimes. In the year ending March 2023, there were 889,918 recorded cases, showcasing the pressing need for concerted action.

And of course, we must also be conscious of the fact that unfortunately, not every case of domestic abuse is reported.

We would also like to acknowledge the fact that not all victims of domestic abuse are women and/or girls. And that people of all genders can be the abused or the abuser. With that said however, we would like to highlight that both truths can be fact at the same time. People of all genders can be abused, and the majority of reported cases of violence, are in fact, against women and girls.

The Local Perspective:

Zooming in on the local impact, we confront the stark reality of violence against women and girls in the UK. From domestic abuse to sexual assault, the figures paint a concerning picture. There is a real case to call for community involvement and support of this issue.

We stand behind the #16Days campaign and its aim to eradicate violence against women and girls, but it would be a failure of all of us to not be able to offer a way in which we change that cultural conversation. To truly empower women and girls, and to allow people of all genders to support their nearest female friends and loved ones, we must first foster a culture of respect for women and girls.  Change comes from understanding, and we have always found that the best way to truly understand someone else, is to find common ground, to talk openly about our experiences, and sometimes, to get creative and utilise the tools of a creative workshop to facilitate conversation and growth.

UNITE Campaign’s Focus:

This year’s UNITE Campaign directs attention to the imperative task of investing in prevention. Governments worldwide are called upon to share their strategies in combating gender-based violence. The significance of these investments and their potential impact on creating safer communities is as yet untold.

To measure prevention is incredibly difficult – how will you know that you’ve successfully prevented a potential crime in the immediate instance? Ultimately, we won’t know the true impact of preventative, culture shifting, narrative changing work, until it’s our normal way of life. Until women and girls don’t have to be, “somebody’s mother”, “somebody’s wife”, “somebody’s sister”, for the wider world to empathise with their life. For women and girls to be somebody, should be all that’s needed for reverence of their emotional and physical boundaries to be understood and respected.

Supporting Organisations:

So how do we best support survivors of violence against women and girls?

Take action and show support: sharing the content of organisations such as Women’s Aid – who are dedicated to combating violence against women – can be a huge help in getting people to understand the severity of this issue. It’s also vital to be open to learning to spot the signs of abuse. It can be incredibly difficult as someone suffering abuse to reach out and ask for help – but by offering honest and open support to those around us, and being informed on what changes to look out for, we could be the difference between life and death in some cases.

By spreading awareness and actively engaging with the resources that women’s charities share, we can all contribute to the collective effort to end gender-based violence.

As the #16Days campaign unfolds, let us unite against violence, working towards a future where women and girls can live free from fear. By investing in prevention, supporting women’s organisations and charities for survivors, and harnessing innovative approaches, we can create a world that values and respects every individual.

Organisations to support: