The 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign is a United Nations campaign which takes place annually from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The 16 Days of Activism is a worldwide campaign to oppose violence against women and children. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the negative impact that violence and abuse have on women and children and to eradicate society of abuse on a permanent basis. In addition to being aimed at raising awareness about and eradicating gender-based violence, the 16 Days of Activism is also a Campaign aimed at raising awareness about gender inequalities and the stereotypes that exist about gender. 

The 16 days of activism may be criticised as activism that does not bring about real change in the face of deeply entrenched structural problems. Gender-based violence and gender inequality are indeed a structural problem. It is promising that a number of new bills have been tabled to combat the structural issues that may hinder the execution of existing legislation. Parliament’s role in the fight against violence of women and children is to promote human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism and the supremacy of the Constitution. Parliament upholds citizens’ human rights and oversees the implementation of constitutional imperatives. This includes, but is not limited to, passing of legislation that prevents or prohibits unfair discrimination to people based on race and gender.

The theme in South Africa for this year’s 16 Days of Activism is “Women’s Economic Justice for a Non-Violent and Non-Sexist South Africa”, with the focus being on the importance of women’s economic empowerment as an integral component of efforts to eradicate gender based violence and femicide. Whilst South Africa continues to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the country is also faced with a second horrendous pandemic in the form of gender based violence and femicide. Many thousands of women and children live in a constant state of fear. The aim of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign this year focuses on the ending  of all forms of violence. 

The theme of the Campaign this year furthermore addresses the role of women in the workplace, access to equal opportunities and unfair treatment of women in male-dominated work sectors. 

It is unrealistic to think that just 16 days of highlighting gender based violence against women and children as well as gender inequality will eradicate the issues which many South African’s face on a daily basis. The key though is education of our citizens and encouraging them not to turn a blind eye to these victims of gender based violence and inequality.

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Author – Kate Bailey – Hill

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