By Gwyneth Sweatman, NUS Wales Women’s Officer
The 25th of November marked the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls, and the beginning of 16 Days of Activism, a campaign to end violence against women. It began in 1991, called for by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, and is used every year since to bring attention to this issue globally,
UNiTE is the UN Women’s global campaign to end violence against women and girls. The 25th of every month has been designated “Orange Day” including the 25th November. Organisations join in on the campaign by raising awareness of the issue, but also by “Oranging” their organisations, by encouraging staff/students to wear orange.
UNiTE picked the colour orange, because it represents the possibility of a bright future women could have access to, but unfortunately the current climate feels less hopeful for young women.
Every ten minutes an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. However, there is a disturbing habit for these incidents of violence to be marketed as independent and rare in our society, when in fact there is a clear pattern of violence against women, especially by partners. It’s happening on our campuses too, with research conducted by NUS finding that of participants, 68% of women on campuses have experienced sexual harassment, and 1 in 7 women experiencing a violent sexual assault while a student, (Hidden Marks, NUS).
The theme of this year’s Orange Days campaign is ‘Leave No One Behind,’ asking campaigners to bear in mind the additional struggles that some women face; some women are more likely to experience violence, due to multiple oppressions. Black, disabled, trans women, for example, have the double social barriers of overcoming the oppressions surrounding their identity, while also facing the struggles associated with being a female.
So I encourage you to join women and organisations around the world in wearing orange during the 16 Days of Activism, and help to ensure a brighter future for women and girls.