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By the time you read this month’s column, there will be a new president-elect of the United States. She will have earned every debate, every speech and every vote that put her there.

 

I say that because the virulent sexism of her former opponent — and the nominee chosen by the Republican Party — is repugnant. Advocating for and grinning about the sexual assault of a woman is criminal. For those who still can’t wrap their head around that, here’s something to help you out.

 

Each Nov. 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is the annual kick-off to ‘16 Days of Activism’. The campaign ends Dec. 10 on International Human Rights Day. It’s coordinated each year by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership and recognised by the United Nations.

 

Spreading the Funds

 

Started in 1991, this year is the 25th anniversary of ‘16 Days’, but I have mixed feelings about this. It goes without saying there should be zero need for anti-violence campaigns and certainly after a quarter century of activism. The problem is that funding for preventing and ending violence against women and girls is decreasing globally as programme budgets are slashed, emergency shelters shuttered and outreach activities all but halted.

 

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) studied this funding issue around the world and discovered that the median budget for a woman’s organisation was US$20,000. Of the 740 women’s organisations surveyed, their combined income was US$106 million. Now compare that to World Vision whose income in the same year was US$2.6 billion. Save the Children clocked in at US$1.4 billion. This cash-starved reality flies in the face of what AWID says should be obvious to all; women’s movements are key drivers defending women’s human rights and gender justice worldwide.

 

This situation also puts certain targets in the Sustainable Development Goals at very real risk of not being achieved such as increasing gender equity and education, or improving health and wellbeing, let alone ending violence. Without financial support for global women’s rights there can be no significant change in the lives of women and girls. This is one of the reasons why this year’s ‘16 Days’ theme is raising money for gender-based violence programmes. The campaign’s official colour is orange so ‘Orange the World: Raise Money to End Violence against Women and Girls’ makes for smart and highly visual campaign tactics like lighting up key buildings and landmarks in a show of tangerine-coloured international solidarity.

 

What You Can Do

 

You can string orange lights in your yard or on your balcony. You can provide pro bono services like legal or accounting or design support to women’s organisations working with groups routinely threatened by violence but typically rendered invisible, such as young women, disabled women, the elderly, LGBTQIA and ethnic minority women.

 

Does your workplace have a matching programme for staff fundraising initiatives? Wear orange and tie a ribbon to your motorbike. Use the hashtag #orangetheworld to demonstrate your commitment to women and girls. Talk to your friends, family and colleagues about why you’re taking a stand against gender-based violence. Educate yourself about not only female genital mutilation and domestic violence, but cyber bullying, and sexism at work and in our schools and the media. Download the ‘16 Days of Activism’ tool kit for other ideas and resources.

 

Ending violence against women and girls is about celebrating and supporting the creativity and agency of activists, survivors and communities around the world. There is no room in freedom for misogyny, bigotry and inequality. It is time to make our peace in the home to peace in the world.

 

Dana McNairn is the CEO of KOTO, an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk youth

Dana McNairn

For the last ten years Dana McNairn has worked for NGOs on the frontline of human rights and gender-based violence, as well as INGOs such as the Canadian Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity. She is the CEO of KOTO, an award-winning nonprofit social enterprise and vocational training programme for at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam.

Website: danamcnairn.com

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