SAfAIDS Statement on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women & 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence


“We stand in solidarity with like-minded organisations and individuals to condemn Violence Against Women as it remains the most widespread violation of human rights. While we acknowledge significant progress and commitments made to address violence against women and girls, the fact that 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime, with up to 7 in 10 women facing abuse in some countries (UN Women, 2019) is most unacceptable in this century! Such statistics call for bolder urgency in actions to preserve women and girls right to bodily autonomy, agency and freedom from all forms of violence. Sexual violence robs women and girls of their dignity, riddling survivors lives with pain and adversity - often lasting a lifetime. This year as we commemorate the 16 Days Campaign we call on Governments, Organisations, Communities and Individuals to make conscious deliberate efforts to redress systematic and institutionalised gender inequalities and injustices which continue to fuel physical and sexual violence” Ms. Rouzeh Eghtessadi, SAfAIDS Executive Director

The 25th November marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence; an international Campaign to challenge violence against women and girls, which culminates on 10th December - which is International Human Rights Day. This day reminds us all that human rights for all will not be achieved in a world where 71% of human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited (UN Women, 2019).

With this year’s 16 Days Campaign theme being ‘Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands against Rape!’ there is critical need for global, regional, national and local reflections and commitments to address the ever-increasing sexual violations against women and girls. SAfAIDS joins like-minded stakeholders in denouncing rape as a devastating human rights violation with life-long consequences, which needs to be effectively addressed. As we draw closer to celebrating the 40th anniversary of CEDAW and 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing +25), there is need for renewed commitment aimed at encouraging and motivating political and social will to protect women and girls from Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV), in particular rape.

The SAfAIDS Regional Transforming Lives programme is contributing towards a more conducive policy environment that enables positive SRHR outcomes for women, in Southern Africa, by 2021. As part of this programme, SAfAIDS is supporting, and collaborating with, SADC Member States to develop a harmonised regional SGBV Response Guidelines for Adolescents and Young People. This is aimed at safeguarding the wellbeing of young people across the private and public divide in line with SDGs 3 and 5, and priority areas under the SADC SRHR Strategy and Scorecard (2019-2030).  SAfAIDS collaborative work with partners at community level, including Sonke Gender Justice, has illustrated the sustained value in engaging traditional and religious leadership, as well as men and boys, as Champions in ending SGBV within faith-based spaces, schools and the broader community sphere. As we commemorate this significant Day, let us renew our Commitment to amplify collective advocacy towards ending rape, and increasing protection of women and girls.

We applaud and celebrate the brave voices of activists and survivors, including those from movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, and #NotOneMore for holding high the flag of NO to this epidemic!

Orange the World - Join the 16 Days Movement - Take Action and End Rape!

"Sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination. Let us not forget that the gender inequalities that fuel rape culture are essentially a question of power imbalances."

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Knowledge for Action: The Power to Make a Difference!