Each year, from 25 November to 10 December, the 16 Days of Activism

campaign calls for action against one of the world’s most persistent violations of

human rights – violence against women and girls.


Thursday 25 November 2021 is the International Day for the Elimination of

Violence against Women and marks day one of the 16 Days of Activism. The

period is characterized by 15 more issues that speak to ending gender-based

violence through raising awareness, challenging discriminatory attitudes and

calling for improved laws and services to end violence against women and girls.


The 2021 campaign is themed “Women and girls: Safe at home, online, in the

street, at work and in society as a whole”.


How did the 16 Days of Activism come about?


On 25 November 1960, sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, three

political activists who actively opposed the cruelty and systematic violence of

the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, were clubbed to death and

dumped at the bottom of a cliff by Trujillo’s secret police.


The Mirabal sisters became symbols of the feminist resistance, and in

commemoration of their deaths, 25 November was declared International Day

for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Latin America in 1980. This

international day was formally recognised by the United Nations in 1999.


In June 1991, the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL), alongside

participants of the first Women’s Global Institute on Women, Violence and

Human Rights, called for a global campaign of 16 days of Activism Against

Gender Based Violence.


Why does this matter?


Violence against women continues to occur at an alarming scale in every

country in the world. Too often it is accepted as normal behaviour and the

global culture of discrimination against women allows violence to occur with

impunity. Recent movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp have propelled

this issue onto the global stage.


Violence against women is a global problem that requires global action. Calls for

action like the 16 days of Activism are crucial because they shine a spotlight on

the issue of violence against women. They are a moment to create public

awareness about what needs to change to prevent it from happening in the first

place at local, national, regional and international levels.


Who needs to be involved?


To end violence against women, we need to challenge the attitudes that

perpetuate, rationalise and normalise it, besides denying women’s right to

safety. Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of gender-based violence. To

see violence truly eliminated, the attitudes of men need to change. Shifting

these behaviours is hard and slow, but gender equality means all of us, and

working with all genders is the only way to see true change. Together we must

call on governments, organisations and people everywhere to speak out against



Violence against women is not inevitable; it is preventable. Tell your families,

schools, communities and workplaces. Together, our message will be amplified,

and our voices heard.


You can support the movement by tweeting #16Days to support human rights

organisations, participating in marches in your cities. Your voice is a critical part

of the global movement to end violence against women.