– by Nkosingiphile Ntshangase
To raise awareness and reinforce its severity on society, the United Nations acknowledges the 25th of November in recognition of gender-based violence worldwide, proclaiming this day as the ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women’. This day also kicks off the ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign, leading to ‘International Human Rights Day’, acknowledged on the 10th of December and the 16th day of the campaign.
Ending violence against women should be a priority in rectifying human injustices that stunt society’s social and economic progression. According to UN Women, the theme for this year is ‘UNITE! Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls’ and the official colour of this campaign is orange. The colour orange represents a brighter future for women and girls, free from violence. Active citizens are encouraged to wear orange on the day to show their support and solidarity with those affected by gender-based violence. A plethora of activities conducted by UN country offices and civil society organisations will be implemented to highlight efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls.
A significant factor in addressing gender-based violence is acknowledging that communities are shaped by traditional and political leaders, local government officials and opinion leaders. Women must be included in leadership for any systematic change to stand a chance of being sustainable. To promote positive behaviour changes, groups that promote these changes must be represented more powerfully. Economic and social empowerment should be available to every woman. Consequently, promoting cultural change at home is crucial. A significant component of violence against women is the influence of patriarchy and toxic masculinity, which are mainly oppressive structures. Many homes and communities don’t necessarily condemn these types of behaviours without recognising how they accelerate societal degradation instead of progress. As a result, women and children often suffer because of their lack of power under these conditions.
Gender-based violence continues to be an issue that women and children encounter in their workplaces, communities, and homes. As a result, their health and well-being, productivity, socio-economic inclusion, and overall empowerment are compromised. Violent experiences have lasting psychological consequences, and perpetrators should be held accountable and brought to justice for their actions. As a society, we also need to hold ourselves responsible for actively dismantling regressive ideologies by teaching children about respect, kindness, and human rights. Investing in education and raising awareness about the topic can assist in addressing gender equality issues. Building a generation of inspired and empowered youth is crucial to transforming societal equity in the long run.