The Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) marks Sunday, November 25, 2018 as the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. First designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999, this date represents an opportunity for the international community to bring gender-based violence to the top of its agenda and bolster efforts that raise awareness of GBV and related issues at both national and international levels. The importance of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which was adopted in 1993, is also placed at the forefront of today’s observance.
November 25 was chosen to coincide with the long-standing observance of the date on which the three Mirabal sisters, participants in the then-growing political movement against their country’s dictatorship, were assassinated in 1960 by Rafael Trujillo, the autocratic ruler of the Dominican Republic. The date was first officially observed by the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentros (Encuentros Feministas Latinoamericanas y del Caribe), as one to commemorate not only the Mirabal sisters, but to give recognition to all who have been affected by gender-based violence around the world.
The 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is dedicated to the theme of “Orange the World: #HearMeToo.” Members of the international community are being encouraged to host events, at the local through the international scale, highlighting the work on ongoing women’s movements, survivor advocates, and women human rights defenders. These events will open spaces and opportunities for dialogue between activists, policy makers and the public to further leverage the priorities of the International Day.
In her message dedicated to the observance, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Director of UN Women, explains:
We still do not know the true extent of violence against women, as the fear of reprisals, impact of not being believed, and the stigma borne by the survivor—not the perpetrator—have silenced the voices of millions of survivors of violence and masked the true extent of women’s continued horrific experiences.
In the recent past, grassroots activists and survivors, as well as global movements such as “#MeToo”, “#TimesUp”, “#BalanceTonPorc”, “#NiUnaMenos”, “HollaBack!” and “#TotalShutdown” have converted isolation into global sisterhood. They are making offenders accountable, exposing the prevalence of violence from high office to factory floor. Today’s global movements are setting collective demands for accountability and action and calling for the end of impunity, to ensure the human rights of all women and girls.
On the occasion of the 2018 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Auschwitz Institute contributes its voice to the calls for an end to gender-based violence and demands for accountability across the globe. AIPR, for its part, is continuing to place an emphasis on the prevention of all forms of gender-based violence in its training programs for government officials and other prominent stakeholders. This includes highlighting the lived experiences of women who have experience conflict, not only as victims and survivors, but also as essential actors in effective atrocity prevention moving forward.