Today is Human Rights Day, a day where we commemorate the signing and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It sets out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings and underpins the freedoms that we all hold as humans - freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
The women’s rights campaigns are intertwined with these fundamental rights, that is why the 16days campaign runs from International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25th November) to Human Rights Day (10th December). The aims are the same, we are striving for equality and for these fundamental freedoms to be universally upheld and acted on.
From the South West of England to the UK to the international stage, sexual and gender-based violence against women is a global problem. As a gross violation of human rights and a destruction of women and girls dignity, it has no place in our society.
The '16 Day Campaign' of activism is aimed at raising awareness around and bringing people together to fight gender violence. Over this period I tweeted, blogged and shared infographics and posts in order to help spread the message and highlight the severity of the problem and create a dialogue around what action can be taken.
From highlighting what the EU is doing to battle gender violence and inequality to how we need to smash the glass ceiling preventing women reaching the very top of companies, over the last 16 days I have tried to cover the many ways in which gender violence and discrimination permeate our society and the impact it has on women everywhere.
I was privileged to have been able to share with people the personal story of a woman who was the victim of domestic abuse and bring forth the vital and life changing work that charities such as SurviveDV do. The impact that they have is immeasurable and we must continue to support them.
This year the official theme of the 16 Day campaign is 'Education.' It is an incredibly powerful tool and one, which can be used to teach respect, relationship education and sexual education early so that children and young people can develop the right attitude from a young age and carry these values into later life. No where is this seen more than in the plight of refugees who are fleeing terror and violence in there countries and are searching for a better, safer life. The humanitarian aid must provide food, medicine and shelter but it must include a long-term commitment to helping refugees rebuild their lives through education. Only by doing this can we prevent a lost generation unable to rebuild their lives and are more likely to be prey to early marriage, child trafficking, child labour, and are vulnerable to extremism.
We can never forget just how lucky we are that we live in Britain where the right to an education is enshrined in law and provided by the state. Yet gender discrimination, violence and bias exists within our education system as well. Barriers block and impede British women’s chances of succeeding in education and their careers throughout their lives. From discrimination and harassment in their work lives to the damage that “lad” and “campus” culture is doing at our colleges and University where a quarter of students have experienced unwelcome sexual advances.
Hopefully this years 16 Days campaign will have made more people aware of how pervasive gender violence and discrimination is in our society and that I have played a small role in this. International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Human Rights Day play a vital role in bringing attention to violence and discrimination against women but we shouldn't believe tour work is done for another year. There is so much more to be done; it would be easy to let ourselves feel helpless against the tide but progress that has been made and is continually being made towards equality.