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25th November: ending violence against women

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

On 7 February 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution "54/134", officially marking the 25th of November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, although activist groups have been celebrating this date as a day against gender-based violence since November 25, 1981, following the first "International Feminist Meeting of Latin American and Caribbean Women."

The day was institutionalized in memory of the Mirabal sisters, three political activists killed in the Dominican Republic in 1960, by order of Rarael Trujillo, dictator in power from 1930 to 1961. Also in 1981, the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women came into force. The aim of the Treaty is to affirm gender equality and to propose an agenda that will ensure that women enjoy all human rights, thereby recognising the need to take action against gender-based violence.

Although it is clearly defined as a violation of human rights and discrimination, violence against women is still widespread today; it is estimated that, on average, one in three women suffer psychological, physical and/or sexual abuse worldwide. In Italy, Istat data show that, still today, 31.5% of women between 16 and 70 years of age have suffered forms of physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime, 13.6% have suffered these abuses from partners or ex-partners, and often the violence takes place by friends and relatives. We’re talking about almost 7 million women in our country alone.

Why is it called "shadow pandemic"

Violence against women and girls did not stop even in times of emergency. On the contrary, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has worsened: more and more women have been victims of abuse, especially in the domestic environment. The restrictions caused by the pandemic have caused stress due to social isolation, as well as economic problems—especially for women, who have suffered the highest percentage of redundancies. At the same time, the health emergency has accentuated the difficulty of access to informal support networks, meaning friends and family, as well as to formal support services (aid centres and psychological counselling), as well as making it even more complicated to leave your home and be able to physically escape from a situation of abuse. In Italy, in 2020, calls to the emergency number against violence and stalking increased by 79.5% compared to the previous year.

Achieving gender equality

The United Nations have included gender equality in the 17 objectives of Agenda 2030, which are essential for achieving a sustainable future. Achieving gender equality and emancipating all women and girls is the fifth SDG, and its targets include the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, in the public and private sphere.

How can we achieve a goal that still seems so far away? Gender-based violence arises from gender-based discrimination, social norms that still accept violence and gender stereotypes that are still too strong in our societies. A fundamental tool for eliminating gender violence is, in fact, prevention, through education, the identification of the causes of this phenomenon and the risks, through the awareness of the whole community and the involvement of men and boys. Raising awareness of violence and its consequences can also support victims in their requests for help and denunciation, as it helps to eliminate the shame that follows abuse, the fear of a further act of violence, or the simple lack of information on the services available.

Finally, each of us, in order to prevent and combat gender violence, can inform and pay attention to what surrounds us, through daily actions that can have an important impact: ensuring a safe space for victims of violence, listen to and believe their stories; educate the new generations to respect and equality, understand the meaning of consensus and learn to recognize the signs of abuse.



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