Thursday kicks off the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign – and is a day to rise up and raise awareness about gender-based violence, whether you're a survivor or a friend of a victim or you're just passionate about making the world a better, happier and kinder place.
Journalist and survivor of gender-based violence, Emb Hashmi, has shared her story with HELLO! and revealed why everyone should support the campaign this year. "This year we are all going orange. It is a symbol of a brighter future, free from violence against women and girls," Emb tells HELLO! "This has been led by The UN under their 2020 global theme: Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!"
So, what is 16 Days of Activism? Read on for everything you need to know in Emb's own words.
It's 16 days to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, the Human Rights Day. The inaugural event was held in 1991 by the first Women's Global Leadership Institute, the Centre for Women's Global Leadership (CWGL).
Since then it has grown and has activities in every part of our world. This year is more poignant than most because of the coronavirus pandemic, which left the most vulnerable women and girls locked up under curfew due to COVID-19 restrictions and saw a sharp rise in violence and abuse against women, seeing domestic violence increase by 25 per cent.
I am a survivor of domestic violence more mental than physical but for much of my life I felt I did not have a voice; I could not tell the world that I have suffered. This is until I founded the charity called Rising Girl and launched the ground-breaking programme Rise Together where we deliver workshops in schools for girls aged 11 to 18 to help them overcome barriers such as domestic violence and honour-based violence. Watching these girls rise gave me a voice. I only wished there was more activism when I was suffering.
The first time I really opened up was in HELLO! magazine – where they featured my story in a triple page spread. This was the door I needed to permanently raise my activism. The feature got an encouraging response from women giving them the strength to seek help.
So, if you're passionate about making a difference in the world but not quite sure how to go about it this is the perfect time. Anyone from a teenager, to a homemaker or multi-juggling executive or an even a silver surfer can do their bit.
How to support 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence:
Get on social media and use the official hashtag #16days
Reach out to that friend, that family member or neighbour who may be suffering
Volunteer at a local women's charity
Wear orange, the colour of the campaign this year
Run a workshop, a talk or a hold a virtual coffee morning and talk about violence against females
Just by doing something so small you could save a life, educate the uneducated as well as raise much-needed awareness. I have been fortunate enough to have spoken to some incredible women who had suffered violence but are now living their best life, such as Raj Holness who suffered two attempts on her life by her family and suffered honour-based violence. Today she is an incredible role model and public speaker.
Or Burton woman Rubena Kashwar, who started a popular hashtag getting people to take a pictures and tweet it to help abused and violated women and children in Pakistan.
For more information on Rising Girl you can visit our website on risinggirl.co.uk
Words by Emb Hashmi