The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on
25 November 2018, marked the start of the 16 day campaign to raise awareness globally. This UN-driven initiative highlights yet another year where figures for violence against women has risen.

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What can you do?

Workplaces (including healthcare environments)

  1. Ensure that there is awareness about the domestic violence toolkit for employers to support staff.
  2. Make sure you have mechanisms in place to provide a safe listening ear for patients who need support.
  3. Ensure there is awareness among staff or key personnel in identifying cases of domestic violence.
  4. Promote year-round campaigns highlighting discrimination against women, especially sexual harassment in the workplace.
  5. Socio-cultural and economic structural discrimination continue to negate the experiences of women. Women themselves tend to have a low regard for other women (internalised sexism) who ask for support – perpetuating the wall of silence and excluding those who are already facing discrimination. Run educational campaigns to counter these damaging narratives – they can contribute to women being unwilling to come forward to ask for help.

Community

  1. Ensure there are spaces for trans women, bisexual women and lesbians to access support. These three groups are particularly vulnerable to partner violence for a range of reasons.
  2. Are there spaces for trans women to be supported through recovery of domestic violence? Trans women and lesbians are generally unwilling to go to the police for help. What can you do to help?
  3. Are domestic violence helplines suitably funded? Is there any way to ensure they are sustainable? (Over half of the women killed around the world are victims of their partners and family members. Often this involves a long period of gaslighting which can cause the victim considerable confusion and less likely to report the perpetrator.)
  4. Can you run regular high profile community programmes on raising confidence among young women and girls? Ensure there is literature and support available to them so they understand they can report violence and that there is no shame in doing so.
  5. Is there any work being done on the intersections of other identities and violence towards women? Are there community groups reaching out to Black and Minority Ethnic communities for example? Do you have ties with religious communities which can sometimes close ranks when there are cases of violence towards women. Domestic violence cuts across all class groups – do you offer and promote services across neighbourhoods?

Universities/educational settings

  1. Are you routinely dismissing sexist behaviour? A prevalence of sexist behaviour is a good indicator of underlying discrimination towards women and the potential for violence. You need to address it from the start.
  2. Do you have senior role models promoting equality for women? Can you run year-round campaigns? Do you train your male staff to spot and recognise discrimination towards women? Why not?
  3. Do you have a named lead to direct educational standards for girls and women?
  4. Legal judgements have routinely diminished the violent experiences of women; this can spill over onto a wide range of settings especially in higher education settings. Do you invite speakers to challenge this?
  5. Do you have specific equality leads to cover gender-based violence and discrimination in your educational setting? Women constitute more than half of the university and educational population. Make sure you have adequate knowledgeable staff to cover their needs.