International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
by Torey Henderson, Fall 2021
November 25th is known as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The United Nations (UN) has also deemed this phenomenon a “shadow pandemic”; since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, data and reports from those on the front lines have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has grown. This initiative is an important step towards combatting violence against women.
The slogan this year is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”
“The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls, will focus on amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.” Throughout this campaign, there are 16 days of activism, concluding in December.
Within our community here in Italy, we have been working on projects for this Initiative. With OU in Arezzo, we have joined forces to create a video. We have had open conversations within our community and a local school, Istituto Superiore Vittoria Colonna, a modern languages high school in Arezzo.
At the school, the English teacher, Lynette Lee, has started a conversation with her students about “the other pandemic”. This week I went to visit her in school and had a chance to visit three of her classes, observe the work her students were doing and hear their views. During class, the students broke into groups; their job was to choose a topic, research it, choose a picture, and present it. The common topics chosen were intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, psychological abuse, and child marriage.
One student in Lee’s class said that she wanted to participate in this Initiative because it is essential to talk about this topic: “more people our age in the community need to have conversations to raise awareness about violence against women.” As I observed the students working on their projects in groups, I saw that each had different ways of approaching it; some focused-on pictures, others focused on research, and some wanted to talk about the topic for a bit before beginning.
While there, I was able to walk around and talk to them; I was impressed to see how good their English was, most of them began learning it in grade school. They blew me away with their ability to have conversations and even understand American slang words. Many of the students in the classes were young women; they seemed very aware of topics such as harassment, catcalling or stalking. When it came to other topics, such as female genital mutation and child marriage, they concentrated on researching first. They asked me what I thought the best angle was to take on the topic. They were excited to research and create a piece of work through which to teach their peers, particularly because, although it is a relatable issue, we know there is still much work to be done to raise awareness and combat violence.
We are excited to see their presentations, and we hope you are too.
For more information about Ending Violence Against Women, please look at this page.