Major campaigns against VAW and femicide | Vienna Femicide Team
Helena Gabriel, member of the Vienna Femicide Team, provides a list of the most inspirational and effective campaigns against femicide, their purposes, outcomes and strategies.
This article has been published in Femicide Volume X.
CAMPAIGNS AGAINST FEMICIDE
The existence of the practice of femicide is widely accepted, laws against it have been implemented and policies fighting gender-related killings have been established – on paper a lot has changed since Diana E. H. Russell introduced the term femicide for the first time during the International Tribunal on Crimes Against Women in 1976.
Nevertheless, the famous findings of Jacqueline Campbell are still valid, “all women are at risk of femicide” and the fear of becoming a victim of gender-related killing accompanies a large number of women day by day. Globally the number of gender-motivated killings is rising. Further, in many regions discriminatory societal systems intensify due to war, extremism or humanitarian crisises such as extreme poverty. In many societies women are still automatically of lower value than men. Hence, all legal efforts to end femicides and violence against women have not yet fully reached the social level, where gender-related killings are actually happening. Femicide, the most extreme case of gender-based violence, can thus be seen as a "barometer" in terms of testing the attitudes of a whole nation towards violence against women.
This is where the importance of educational campaigns and civil society movements has to be outlined.
Over years social engagements have been the driving force of a growing political will and legal adjustments to end violence against women and also the cornerstone of the empowerment of women and girls in combating and eliminating violence against themselves. They work hard to end the societal and medial invisibility of violence against women, which is often aggravated by a hierarchy of the dead.
Further, joint rebellion has led to a broader recognition of the actual extent of this worrying subject and with that to a stronger conciousness of the costs and consequences of gender-motivated violence or killings for not only women but also men. Thus, many educational campaigns follow a strategy of fighting root causes instead of single symtoms as femicide can only be antagonized with the extermination of all kinds of gender discrimination, social, political and legal misogyny as well as structures of male dominance.
The world has seen a wave of powerful protest against gender-related killings. Millions of women and men all over the world have contributed and sacrificed a lot in order to end violence against women. Others must join these challenging efforts in order to make the content of the booklet at hand history instead of reality. The following paragraphs are dedicated to the most inspirational and effective campaigns against femicide, their purposes, outcomes and strategies.
Orange the World
Every year UN Women and its partners around the world mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence from November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10th December (International Human Rights Day) using the colour orange as a visible signature. Worldwide important buildings and monuments are oranged during that specific period of time in order to set a visible sign to end violence against women. The orange lighting of important buildings is accompanied by an educational campaign and diverse informational events around the world.
Further information can be found on www.unwomen.org.
Ni Una Menos
#NiUnaMenos which translates to #NotOneLess symbolizes a highly effective Argentinean campaign against gender-based violence. The movement arose from the fact that In Argentina every 30 hours a woman is murdered simply because she is a woman. Starting with the awareness raising of a few journalists, activists and artists the campaign developed into a collective outcry demanding the end of femicide in Argentina. Thousands of people joined hundreds of organizations throughout the whole country. On June 3rd 2015 #NiUnaMenos reached its peak, when 200,000 people protested on the Plaza del Congreso in Buenos Aires, due to the number of recent and extremely brutal cases of gender-motivated killings.
Further information can be found on www.niunamenos.com.ar.
Red Shoes movement
Zapatos Rojos or Red Shoes is an artistic installation setting a sign against gender-based killings in Mexico by the Mexican artist Elina Chauvet. The so-called “silent protest” consisted of 33 red or red-painted shoes, which were arranged like a protest march of absent women, women who became victims of gender-related killings and never received justice. The first project of this kind was realized in May 2015 in Ciudad Juarez, a border city between Mexico and the United States, where the number of gender-related murders is disproportionately high. Public attention towards Zapatos Rojos was high. Soon imitators around the world intensified the outreach of this attempt to raise awareness of the societal costs of the practice of femicide.
White Ribbon Campaign
Violence against women is rooted in gender inequalities that, to a certain extent, still exist in all societies around this world. The White Ribbon Campaign is one attempt to change this, following a completely new approach. The White Ribbon Campaign is a collective outcry of men and boys to end violence against women. Men who are wearing the White Ribbon officially declare their rejection of violence against women and promise to stand up against it. The campaign was initiated in Canada in 1991 and has expanded its sphere of action ever since. Men are part of the solution and cannot be excluded from the fight against gender-based violence or killings. Further information can, inter-alia, be found on www.eige.europa.eu.
UNiTE to End Violence against Women
UNiTE was launched in 2008. Since then it has aimed to raise public as well as political awareness of the prevention and elimination of all forms of gender-based violence. The aim of this campaign is to mobilize individuals as well as communities, governments and international organizations to join forces in order to enable change. UNiTE unites all actors within the fight against gender-based violence and its most severe form, namely, femicide.
Further information can be found on www.un.org/en/women/endviolence.
Blue Heart Campaign
“Have a heart for victims of human trafficking” is the principle of the Blue Heart Campaign, an initiative that makes aware of a crime that shames us all. Millions of people become victims of human trafficking, a modern form of slavery, every year. In order to raise awareness on this issue the UNODC has created this campaign, which is open to all those who want to participate and wear the Blue Heart to set a visible sign against human trafficking.
Further information can be found on www.unodc.org/BlueHeart.
About the author
Helena Gabriel is a passionate human right activist with a strong focus on women’s rights. During her work in this field ending violence against women has become a matter close to her heart. Currently she engages at the UN Women National Committee Austria, where she works on the Orange the World campaign and ACUNS Vienna Liaison, where she just recently became the managing editor of FEMICIDE, the resource book at hand.