16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

22 November 2021

Cartoon of a group of women with different size bodies, shapes and colours holding a sign that says #not asking for it as part of the sixteen days of activism against gender based violence campaign

Thursday 25 November is the first day of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign is a call to action to emphasise that gender-based violence against women is a fundamental violation of human rights. ​

Beginning on the 25 November which is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the campaign spans 16 days to finish on 10 December which is World Human Rights Day. These dates were specifically chosen to link violence against women and human rights. ​

Our organisation is committed to taking a lead on preventing violence against women and it is one of the priority areas that sits within our organisation’s Integrated Health Promotion plans across both sites. Our organisation is proud to be part of the Building a Respectful Community partnership in the North and Together for Equality and Respect Strategy in the East that are united in working for a gender equitable, safe and respectful community.

As a workplace, we are committed to ending gender-based violence for all our staff, consumers and our community.

Below are some of the key messages from Women's Health in the North (WHIN) we'll be sharing through the 16 Days to demonstrate the simple, everyday actions we can all take to be part of ending gender-based violence and building a gender equitable, safe and respectful community.

Challenge victim blaming

Victim blaming occurs when the victim of a crime is in some way held responsible for what has happened to them. Victim blaming is evident in questions such as ‘What was she wearing?’ ‘What was she doing walking home by herself?’ and ‘What did she think was going to happen if she got drunk?’.

Victim blaming is also present in the question, ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’. Focussing on women’s behaviour when they have experienced violence means we fail to hold men to account for their actions in perpetrating violence.

This is an example of how our society condones and enables men’s violence against women. Challenging these attitudes is essential if we are to prevent violence against women and create safe and respectful communities.

This video from OurWatch is a useful introduction to consent, victim-blaming and the importance of listening to survivors.

Cartoon of a group of women of different ages, races and abilities standing together. Text reads: Challenge victim blaming. Image part of 16 days of activism against gender based violence campaign

Movies that explore, defy and celebrate gender and gender equality

There is no better way to question and expand our understanding of gender-based violence and learn about gender stereotypes than to learn through books and movies.

This 16 Days, from November 25 to December 10, 2020, commit to watching at least 3 of the movies below, and share them with a friend. By educating ourselves and others we can move into purposeful action, and end gender-based violence for good.

Movie list:

  1. Hidden Figures
  2. North Country
  3. Bend it Like Beckham
  4. Enola Holmes
  5. Made in Dagenham
  6. A Little Chaos
  7. On the Basis of Sex
  8. Calendar Girls
  9. Bombshell
  10. Erin Brockovich

For more information about these movies please take a look at the Movie List

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Encourage or role model healthy masculinity

Research shows that 95% of the violence women have experienced in Australia is at the hands of men. Clearly violence against women is a men’s issue too.

Australian men’s belief in rigid masculine stereotypes has a stronger impact on whether they will use violence, sexually harass women, or experience mental ill-health, than other factors including their education levels, where they live or their cultural heritage.

We need to challenge stereotypes that associate masculinity with control, power and aggression. Masculinity must be acknowledged as diverse, nuanced and multi-faceted if we are to support boys and men to be free to choose who they want to be and prevent violence against women.

Cartoon of a group of men of different ages, sizes and abilities standing in a group. Text reads: Encourage or role model healthy masculinity. Image 16 days of activism against gender based violence campagin

Learn about elder abuse and challenge ageist attitudes.

The impact of gender on our lives does not disappear as we age, and older women are at similar risk to intimate partner violence as younger women, as well as sexual abuse and forms of elder abuse perpetrated by family members and carers. This can be linked to ageist attitudes that marginalise older women and frame them as ‘sexless’ or position them as invisible. Ageism is normalised and commonplace. Examine your own attitudes towards older people and challenge ageist attitudes when you hear them. For more information visit the Respect Victoria website

Cartoon of an senior lady sitting at table with middle aged lady standing behind her touching her back with her hand. text reads: Learn about elder abuse and challenge ageist attitudes. Image part of 16 days of activism against gender based violence

Role model consent with young people in relation to image sharing and safe online relationships.

Modelling consent with children creates the groundwork for their understanding of respectful relationships and healthy boundaries. By talking to children about online safety early and often, we lay the foundations for safer online experiences as they grow older. The same rules for consent apply online, as they do offline:

1. Only a freely given yes means yes.

2. Consent can’t be implied, inferred or coerced.

3. Consent can always be revoked at any time.

This campaign #FreeToBeOnline is standing with girls around the world to call for social media companies to improve their ways of reporting abuse and harassment in a way that actually works for girls.

Cartoon of a mother and child sitting at table looking at photos on a computer. Mother asking child "Can I share this picture of you". Text reads: Role model consent with young people in relation to image sharing and safe online relationships.

Chat with an older person about changing gender roles and norms over their lifetime.

Did you know that before 1956 female teachers had to resign before getting married? Or that women couldn’t drink in bars before 1956? Or that Aboriginal women were only granted the right to vote in 1962, 60 years after non-Indigenous women attained that same right?

The continued activism for gender equality in Australia might be taken for granted but these successes need discussing and celebrating, especially as we look to the future. Check out the gender equality timeline from Victorian Women's Trust and chat with an older person in your life about how gender roles and norms have changed over their lifetime. What have you learnt from an older person about changes to gender in their lifetime that surprised you?

Cartoon three people having cups of tea at a table. Text reads: Chat with an older person about how gender roles have changed over their lifetime. Image represented as part of 16 days of activism against gender violence campaign

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