We have seen on our newsfeeds #16DaysOfActivism being widely discussed but what exactly is it?
The campaign which has now been popularized with the use of the hashtag and drawing on many of the conversations that are part-parcel of those that emerged from #MeToo is an international campaign against violence on women, children and gender minorities.
The campaign takes place from 25 November to 10 December, every year coinciding with International Day of No Violence Against Women and International Human Rights Day. More often than not, women find themselves vulnerable to forms of acts of violence whether it is at home and/or in the workplace.
Many, left disempowered by these crimes often leave them unreported. It is during this time of awareness, that we are reminded that speaking out against gender-based violence should be a norm that is carried out every day not just during the time of the campaign. As these acts of violence occur every day. Breaking the silence on the matter and reporting it makes a real difference in people's lives, especially being aware of one’s rights both at home and in the workplace. Gender-Based violence has rippling effects that impact on livelihoods, often tearing apart one's sense of being and belonging. Yet the onus and burden still sit with the victim and not the perpetrator.
Understanding abuse needs us to shift our thinking of it as a private family issue, something that happens behind closed doors. Rather a broader public issues that reflect the ills in our society. Whether it's humiliating a person at home or in public, stalking, sexually harassing and/or preventing one from getting or keeping a job, seeing friends or family - there isn’t one way of looking at abuse.
How do we move forward and recognize gender-based violence every day?
It must be recognized that Gender-based violence (GBV) is prevalent throughout society and not seen as a private matter. The impact of it finds prevalence in also the working environment. With many forms of harassments in the workspace taking form between many that hold positions of power and their juniors. Recognizing and speaking out about GBV needs to be a two-stream with many needing to hold accountability.
Whether it is a corporation, small business or NGO; the pervasiveness of sexual harassment should be dealt with in serious regard. Speaking out becomes important in addressing the issue. Recently, there was an expose in the NGO sector, where alleged sexual harassment violations were carried out by a senior staff member of Equal Education; who subsequently resigned after these allegations came to light.
On the onset, it took one person to speak out about the sexual harassment in the workplace and more people within the organization found the support to also speak out about the issues that they had been facing. A former staff member wrote on her Facebook page, “Sexual harassment is the cherry on top of a mountain of injustice, from exploitation, victimization, and general ill-treatment… Many of us have kept quiet for the sake of the movement and the work it does/did. But enough is enough! I stand with these women, and I hope that truth comes out regarding not only the former [general secretary] but the management as a whole.”
Often when it comes to the workplace, those who have been or are vulnerable to GBV are tight-lipped out of fear of losing their job. In this uncertain economy and work instability, this fear is often used as a silencing mechanism. Something known but unspoken about. Following the shift brought by the #MeToo movement, many other women have started to shed light on the matter when it comes to the working environment. Predatory abuses they’ve had to endure in an unequal environment and world.
When one is entering the workspace — although aware of some of the issues that might be at hand — we at times think of them in a very distancing manner as things that happen elsewhere, to another and always outside of yourself. The reality of the matter is that these issues are very real, personal and impact the individual on a daily basis. Being aware of them within your own lives and situations brings about a much-needed conversation that needs to be had. #HearMeToo