This call to action, these 16 days calling for an end to all forms of violence against women begins again now. Our call for 2019. Every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. It is a global call for action. It has its roots in the murder of three out of four sisters, all who were speaking out against a dictator in their country. I read about it because I wanted to know about it. The loss of these women was felt by activists at the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentros. In 1981 those women marked November 25 as a day to collectively raise awareness about violence toward women and girls. It became a resolution at the UN in 1999. A promise to end this violence.
We are not pleading, asking politely, satisfied with promises that have so far amounted to nothing on the extremes of torture, imprisonment and death, throwing at the best, crumbs. Women have been asking governments to act on the treatment of women from unfair to deadly, for more years than any of us have been alive. Women speaking out have been vilified, hidden from history, accused of being man-haters, ordered to be beaten up by or imprisoned by governments, by police forces, as well as being killed in the streets and in homes by individual men. Men empowered by a world social system that continues to send out the message that men have the right to dominate women, and if necessary beat or kill us into silence.
We are living in this horror. And over the next 16 days we name it. And we celebrate knowing each other is there.
It is no wonder that along the way, as our voices speaking out have gotten stronger, that the methods of silencing have continued, even expanded. And we know that women fearing the rocking of this boat have betrayed sisters along the way. We need to continue to encourage each other throughout these lives of ours, for the women who have been killed, for our work to stop it, for this weaving together what we know is possible.
Man hater. Uppity. Loud mouthed. Ugly. Troublemaker. Full of herself. Useless. Words thrown at us for dreaming of, calling out to find others also working for peace and respect for women. Words thrown at us for working for a world without suppression of, violence toward, murder of girls and women that is still taking place almost everywhere.
As we embark on this 16 Days, all those who want this, let’s move forward together. Feel the beautiful support of each other. Send support to each other. Recognize that we are being attacked because we have a different vision of what is possible. The world needs our leadership. To end violence. To end the wars. To end poverty. To create universal health care. Universal education. To live in harmony with the earth, our home. To live in harmony with each other.
I call on men who haven't known what to do, to move forward with us in waves, not as leaders of women, but as leaders of men and boys and in support of us. By changing what continues to be taught: that outspoken women must be stopped if we go too far. That men and boys have the right to any woman or girl at any time for any reason. Instead, that men and boys have the right to be loving, gentle, sensitive, and respectful of women without being punished. That acceptance into male circles can be gentleness, not macho. That violent behaviour needs to end. That the voices of women as we figure out how we can create a different world by meeting and planning with each other, need to be supported and welcomed. All of our lives depend on this.
We are reaching a turning point in this change so desperately needed. But there is a barrier of those resisting, not wanting to lose benefits from change in the status quo.
Do we need to say it again? Yes, we do. Women and girls are being tortured and killed daily, almost everywhere. We are being subjected daily to beatings, forced marriages, forced sterilization, breast ironing, FGM, widows huts, acid in faces, imprisonment, rape, torture, murder and all of the devastation that comes with wars. We are being stolen away into into sexual slavery. We are used for indentured labour, forced into unwanted marriages, watch our children get murdered, our girls raped, and we are killed when we are considered a burden or a danger. What kind of world is this?
This is our call for action each year. Each year we are stronger. Each year more in touch with each other. Let’s be furious together. Let our fury become the strength we need. Even stronger together than before. We are not alone, we have each other. We will not be silenced. Our roar is justified. Our roar is needed. Our roar will help more women find each other, more women to trust themselves in believing that every one of us has the right to be leaders, to be well supported in the work we are doing, to be free. Let’s soar with each other as we tell our stories, as we make what we imagine come true.