Participants chose the dates, November 25 (International Day Against Violence Against Women), and December 10 (International Human Rights Day) in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a human rights violation.
The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:
- Establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women -providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies, demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women and creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign.
Over the 20 years gender activists, civil society, governments, private sector institutions, faith-based organizations, communities and development partners have used the period to highlight gender violence and call for sustainable strategies to address gender violence.
An important overarching question for all across the globe in 2011 is how much progress has been made in reducing the levels of gender violence in the last two decades.
The global theme for 2011 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence Campaign brings this and other questions to the fore.
The theme is “From peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence against Women!”
Militarism is the belief or desire of a government or people that a country should maintain a strong military capability and be prepared to use it aggressively to defend or promote national interests.
Southern Africa will link with the global theme under the banner: “From peace in the home to peace in the world; end gender violence by 2015!”
Key themes for contributions are International Human Rights Day: Gender and Climate Change - Running alongside the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), this year’s 16 Days will also highlight the impact of climate change on women’s security on how is climate change related to gender based violence and how is your community adapting to effects of climate change.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a problem in many countries in the world and Southern Africa is not immune.
More than three-quarters of Southern African men have reportedly perpetrated some form of violence against women in their lifetime and more than half of women in Southern Africa have experienced gender-based violence.
It has long been acknowledged that Namibia has a high rate of GBV and this latest review of cases is yet another reminder of how prevalent rape, passion killing and other forms of GBV have become in Namibia.
Terrible crimes are being committed in Namibia on a daily basis.
The cases reported are some of the most disturbing to have occurred during the year – the gang rape of a schoolgirl, the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, the rape and murder of a three-year-old child, the violent rape of an 80-year-old woman.
Terrible crimes by any accuont.
The 16-year-old girl had a future ahead of her but no longer. The three-and-a-half-year-old girl had a future ahead of her but no longer. The women that survived have had their lives irreversibly changed.
These cases are a an urgent reminder that society must collectively deal with this scourge.
Most Southern African countries have robust laws to address gender-based violence and gender equality.
However, all too often these laws are not properly implemented or enforced and only exist on paper.
Knowledge of the laws and basic tenets of human rights, combined with a genuine desire for change at the community level are vital if a reduction in gender-based violence is to be achieved.
In an interview with The Southern Times, the director of Gender and International Affairs, Victor Shipoh, said it is of the utmost importance to improve the status of women in society and to eradicate injustices.
To this end measures have been put in place to ensure that equitable access to economic resources and opportunities to ensure social justice for both women and men.
Responding to the question on how far still to go in addressing gender violence, advocating for gender equality, and implementing important commitments like the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, Shipoh said: “The guiding principles of the national gender policy are informed by national and international legal instruments for the promotion of gender equality.
“These include the SADC Declaration on Gender and Development and its Addendum on the Prevention and Eradication of Violence Against Women and Children, the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and its Optional Protocol, and the Millennium Development Goals among others.”
Shipoh said apart from the Constitution, Namibia has a gender policy in place designed to create a society in which women and men enjoy the equal rights and access to basic services.
“It serves also to provide opportunity for men and women to participate in contribute towards the political, social, economic and cultural development of Namibia.”
Shipoh said much progress had been made in the advancement of gender equality in the economic, political and legal spheres through the enrollment of girl children in schools, which now matched - and in some cases even surpassed - that of the boys at all levels.
He said this demonstrated the potential to achieve the MDG target on education by 2015.
Progress was also made in the area of legal reforms with the development of a legal framework through laws seeking to address gender inequalities and issues of economic and social injustices brought about by past discriminatory laws and cultural practices, patriarchal ideologies and historic imbalances.
Despite the progress made, many challenges remain in programming for gender equality.
Women continue to be under-represented in decision-making processes both in the public and private sectors, on special committees and in religious groupings.
In order to address gender equality and promote women’s empowerment, Shipoh said the national gender policies should have greater focus on programmes such as poverty and rural development, education and training, health, reproductive health and HIV and AIDS, gender-based violence, trade and economic empowerment, governance and decision-making, issues of the girl child, legal affairs and human rights, peace building,