Sixteen Days of Peace Campaign

Date: August 10, 2009
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What is the sixteen days of peace campaign?

The sixteen days of peace campaign began with training workshops on strategic communication in three South African provinces in 2002 conducted by Gender Links, with the support of Australian (Aus) aid and the Open Society Foundation of South Africa. In 2002 GL worked with over thirty NGOs in implementing their campaigns in Gauteng, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. In 2003, Gender Links extended this training to four more provinces and held one countrywide workshop on gender violence and hiv/ aids – its umbrella theme for the 2003 campaign.

Gender violence is both a cause and consequence of gender violence for the following reasons:

  • Coercive sex can cause injuries and bleeding that lead to a higher risk of hiv infection for women.
  • It is difficult for women in abusive relationships to negotiate safer sex.
  • Although in South Africa women who experience sexual assault should have access to PEP (post exposure profilaxis)- a cocktail of anti-retroviral drugs that reduces the risk of getting hiv/aids- this is often not readily available.
  • In most Southern African countries PEP is not available at all.
  • Women who know their hiv status or who are perceived to be living with hiv may be at risk of violence from partners and their community.

This explains why in 2003 GL extended its 2002 theme- “imagine a world without gender violence”- to “imagine a world without gender violence and hiv/aids”.

Background information

November 25

November 25 was declared international day against violence against women at the first feminist encuentro for latin america and the caribbean held in bogota, colombia, july 18-21, 1981. At that encuentro women systematically denounced gender violence from domestic battery, to rape and sexual harassment, to state violence including torture and abuses of women political prisoners. November 25 was chosen to commemorate the violent assassination of the mirabal sisters (patria, minerva and maria teresa) on november 25, 1960 by the dictatorship of rafael trujillo in the dominican republic.

In 1999, the United Nations officially recognized November 25 as the international day for the elimination of violence against women.

World aids day

World aids day is observed every year on December 1. This day marks the beginning of an annual campaign designed to encourage public support for and development of programs to prevent the spread of hiv infection and provide education and promote awareness of issues surrounding hiv/aids. It was first observed in 1988 after a summit of health ministers from around the world called for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater exchange of information on hiv/aids. World aids day serves to strengthen the global effort to face the challenges of the aids pandemic.

More information:

The Montreal massacre

On Wednesday, December 6, 1989 a 25 year-old man, Marc Lepine, walked into the university of montreal’s school of engineering building at about five in the afternoon, with a .223 calibre semi-automatic rifle. He began a shooting spree during which he murdered fourteen women and injured thirteen others: nine women and four men. Marc Lepine believed it was because of women students that he was not accepted to the engineering school. Before killing himself, he left an explanatory letter behind which contained a tirade against feminists as well as a list of nineteen prominent women, whom he particularly despised.

The fourteen women who were murdered became symbols, tragic representatives, of the injustice against women. Women’s groups across the country organized vigils, marches and memorials. There was an increase in support for educational programs and resources to reduce violence against women. Both federal and provincial governments made commitments to end violence against women.

In 1991, the Canadian government proclaimed December 6th national day of remembrance and action on violence against women. In 1993, an organization calling itself the Dec. 6 Coalition set up a revolving fund for women leaving violent situations to establish themselves and their children in a safer, more secure environment. As a direct result of the massacre, several mothers of the victims began groups to restrict gun laws and promote awareness of the continued violence against women.

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International human rights day

On December 10 peoples and states the world over celebrate the adoption, in 1948, of the universal declaration of human rights. On this landmark date in contemporary history, the nations of the world joined together to try and bury, once and for all, the spectre of genocide raised by the second world war.

The document was one of the first major achievements of the United Nations and provided the basic philosophy for many legally binding international instruments to follow.

Resolution 217a (iii) by the general assembly, proclaims the “universal declaration of human rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every organ of society, keeping this declaration constantly in mind shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms…”

Organizations and individuals use human rights day as an opportunity to both commemorate the signing of this historical document and to promote the principles which are enumerated throughout the document. Human rights day, according to previous high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, is “an occasion to demonstrate that the principles of the universal declaration of human rights were not theoretical or abstract.”

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Useful links

  • Suggested Actions: 16 Ideas for 16 Days: The attached list is of suggested actions represents a collection of ideas for 16 Days events, many of which can be adapted and used for different themes.
  • 2004 take action kit – please download a copy here
  • The request for NGO feedback from the office of the UN special rapporteur on violence against women for her upcoming report on violence against women and hiv/aids is still posted on the website. the deadline to reply is october 15th.
  • A new section has been posted to the website that contains additional resources not included in the take action kit. One is a comprehensive list of websites in the areas of reproductive and sexual health and rights, hiv/aids, and violence against women and the other is a list of additional publications in the area of violence against women. They can both be found here.

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