Today marks the kick-off of "16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence," a global campaign which mobilizes women around the world to organize marches, events, and street theater to raise awareness of the violence pandemic facing women and girls.
Launched in 1991, 16 Days of Activism was created by the Center for Global Women's Leadership. The founders chose November 25 - International Day Against Violence Against Women - and December 10, International Human Rights Day to make the case that violence against women is a human rights violation. Since then over 2,000 women's organizations in 156 countries have participated in the global campaign.
The 2009 campaign theme is "Commit, Act, Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women! " In solidarity, the Global Fund for Women will highlight the work of five grantee partners that approach violence against women from a human rights perspective, and how the eradication of such violence is critical to achieving genuine peace and security. Over the next 16 days, watch for stories of these groups striving to reverse the trend of violence.
Why act now? Consider this: One in three women will have experienced rape or abuse in her lifetime. In the U.S., 600 women are raped or sexually assaulted every day. For women aged 16 to 44, violence is a major cause of death and disability, higher than cancer or automobile accidents. 70 percent of casualties in recent conflicts are civilians, mostly women and children.1 Studies show that in tough economic times, girls more likely to be first in their families to go without food and be pulled out of school Violence by intimate male partners worsens the longer men are jobless. According to 2009 figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 37 percent of the 49 million Americans facing hunger are households with children headed by single mothers. In 2008, governments spent a staggering $1.464 trillion worldwide in military budgets, a 45 percent increase from 1998. The US accounted for nearly half. Meanwhile the entire budget of the United Nations amounted to $27 billion, a mere fraction of the global military budget. In 2008, the U.S. government spent $706 billion on defense, including supplemental war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan. In contrast, the US allocated $7.278 billion on global health programs.
1United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) 2007