Do we ever wonder why there are 16 days annually designated to remind us to combat gender-based violence? Why is this annual UN observance essential? Who is promulgating continued consistent violence all over the world? Who are the victims of this violence?

With a shock we have to recognise that violence against women is so widespread and pervasive in the 21st century that 30,000 women’s deaths annually are caused by current or former partners.

Can we possibly put a stop to this carnage? Can the answer be women’s continued attempts to overturn global imbalance between the genders?  Has public awareness made a difference?

For 30 years, since 1991, there has been a global observance of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence stretching from November 24 – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women –   to December 10, Human Rights Day.

The intent in linking these two important UN observance dates is to remind the world that violence against women is a Human Rights issue. 6000 organisations in almost 200 countries have participated in the 16 Days of Activism campaigns over the years – but what has resulted from these 30 years of global endeavours?

Scanning the main themes for each of the past 30 years of this campaign we see broad aims and specific values focussing on upgrading women’s rights in many of the spheres of their lives:

1993 theme was Democracy in the Family, Democracy of Families, Democracy for Every Body.

2001 theme was Racism and Sexism : No More Violence.

2002 theme was Creating a Culture that says No to Violence against Women.

2008 theme was Human Rights for Women: Human Rights for All.

2009 theme was Commit, Act, Demand: We CAN End Violence against Women

Have there been real outcomes from these thirty years of international striving to upgrade women’s place in the world? It seems that the Me Too movement which surfaced from its start in 2006 into a global mainstream social media movement in 2017 may have been the most important outcome worldwide.

Cultural contradictions and double standards in domestic partnerships have always existed, but the forceful and far- reaching Me Too revelations have opened a new and public shaming of male behaviour worldwide. Perpetrators can no longer maintain their abusive and denigrating actions and hope to maintain secrecy.

International Council of Jewish Women has a strong and continuing record of awareness and support for women’s rights, our affiliate organisations in 35 countries work for the welfare of women and girls from all cultures and faiths.

Observance of the 16 Days of Activism can be far-reaching for all women in every community in the world.  Let’s recognise this 16 Days period, which falls across Hanuka this year, within our ICJW communities.

Robyn Lenn OAM
ICJW Status of Women Chair


The United Nations is marking the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence from 25 November to 10 December 2022, under the global theme set by the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign “End Femicide”. Find out more at: #OrangeTheWorld: End Femicide!

Join the Campaign: #16Days of Activism #OrangeTheWorld to stand against gender-based violence.