– by Ayanda Radebe
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is a day observed annually on the 25th of November and established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999. This day serves as a very commanding reminder of the urgent need to address the consistent issue of violence against women and to raise awareness to create efforts to eliminate it. This global pandemic continues to arise in different settings, including the workspace, communities and online spaces. It can have a significant effect on one’s physical and emotional health, regardless of whether they have experienced any form of physical abuse or not.
The issue of violence against women is not only devastating for survivors of violence and their families but also entails significant social and economic costs. Failure to address these issues causes a considerable cost in the future, as numerous studies have shown that an individual who has directly or indirectly experienced violence are more likely to become perpetrators of violence in the future. Some forms of violence do not only cause immediate harm but also have long-lasting effects on the physical and mental well-being of women.
It is a misconception that abuse is only physical and creates a lot of confusion when other women decide to speak out regarding non-physical abuse. Forms of abuse include the following:
- Emotional abuse (mental and psychological abuse)
- Intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide)
- sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber-harassment)
- human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation)
- female genital mutilation
- child marriage. 
On this day, it is essential to reflect on what we can do individually and collectively because, with many of the issues we face, we may lack the knowledge on how best to take action. We must educate ourselves, engage in conversations and continue raising awareness on social media platforms to take impactful steps. As a tool to empower and educate, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has introduced a compulsory module on social issues, which is the social justice education module which aims at addressing topics such as gender-based violence, racism, gender inequality and classism for all first-year students. This is a great initiative which bridges the gaps in the matters we constantly face, and UEL is in full support of it.