25 Nov 2021

16 days of activism against gender-based abuse

Two in three women report that they or someone they know have experienced violence. Let that sink in…

Eliminating violence against women and girls should be something we strive to do every day, but today marks the recognised international day for doing so and the start of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence – an annual global campaign that calls for actions to increase awareness, impel advocacy efforts, and better sharing of knowledge and good practice.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in England and Wales:

  • Almost one in three women aged 16-59 will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime
  • Two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales alone
  • In the year ending March 2020, 1.6 million women experienced domestic abuse.
  • Demand has never been higher and on this day, 1,300 people are on a waiting list to access Rape Crisis support.

Around the world, climate-related natural disasters and food shortages are exacerbating violence against women and girls, with more than 70 per cent of women having experienced gender-based violence in a crisis setting. Women live in danger in your neighbourhood and in your quiet cul-de-sac. The COVID pandemic and forced isolation has enabled unseen violence, now labelled a second shadow pandemic. Helplines have soared over the last two years, pushing charities and support agencies to breaking point and in these harrowing figures it is suspected that 50 killings may have occurred during the first lockdown in the UK.

Violence against women is not inevitable and it starts with every single one of us. But the right attitudes, policies and procedures can bring results. This can mean anything from comprehensive, long-term strategies that aim to tackle the root causes of violence and protect the rights of women and girls; supporting women’s rights movements, or simply challenging and calling out misogynistic behaviours that you know are not okay. By doing this, you’re already helping to transform harmful social norms.

Above all, stopping violence against women and girls means believing survivors.

We must partner our words with action and accountability, and we must underpin everything we do with the belief that change is possible. Violence often goes unreported and is silenced by stigma and fear of the perpetrator, but also the fear of a system that too often fails women - housing security, dignity, equality and justice.

Today, I want to take a moment to recognise the strength and resilience of survivors, and to those working tirelessly to support women and girls up and down the country in an exceptionally challenging time. I want to take a moment to remember all the women and girls who have lost their lives to violence.

You and your organisation can act today and lead the change to make a difference. You can start by committing to raising awareness of the issue for the next 16 days and, of course, I’d really hope you continued to fight for the safety and freedom of women all year round.  

Are you joining us in the 16 days of activism? If so, we’d love to know what you’re doing to raise awareness and to help fight this global crisis. We want to celebrate those of you that work to protect women and girls and defend their human rights.

Get in touch: Alexandra.Gibson@cih.org

You can access the 16 days of activism toolkit here.

Written by Alexandra Gibson

Alexandra Gibson is a policy and practice officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing. She leads on housing sustainability (net zero carbon and retrofitting), as well as repairs and maintenance.