What does 16 Days of Activism Really Mean?

16 days of activism is a global campaign initiated by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991.

The campaign is observed annually between 25 November and 10 December. The aim of the campaign is to draw attention to Gender-based violence, any form of violence against women and human rights issues across the Globe.

The campaign was prompted by the Montreal massacre in Canada. On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine entered the École Polytechnique Engineering School and shot dead a group of female engineering students after he separated the men and women, he then proceeded to shoot himself. Marc reasoned in his suicide note that he blamed feminists for ruining his life. 

South Africa joined the Global 16 Days community in 1998. The country has seen a surge in gender-based violence and it is too costly to ignore. During the 2019 opening ceremony held in Lephalale, Limpopo on Monday 25 November, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that it goes against African values and everything Africans stand for as a people. He continued, “Growing up, men and boys were taught to respect and protect women and children, it seems as though they have lost their way and their respect for women and children; this needs to change.”

The South African government aims to continue the 16 days of Activism campaign with no end in mind, under the theme ‘Enough is Enough – 365 days to Gender-Based violence and femicide (GBVF).’

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