International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence

Orange the World: #HearMeToo

Date: Monday, November 26, 2018

This year, UN Women and partners around the world are marking the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (25 November – 10 December) under the theme of “Orange the World: #HearMeToo". Coming on the heels of global movements and grassroots campaigns such as ‘#MeToo’, “#TimesUp”, “#BalanceTonPorc”, “СегаКажувам (#ISpeakUpNow)“ “#NiUnaMenos”, “#MeTooIndia“ and “HollaBack!”, the 16 Days of Activism will be a rallying moment to bring together governments, communities, survivors, activists and the public through high-visibility events, using the signature colour orange.

As in previous years, iconic buildings and monuments will be ‘oranged’ to call for a violence-free future. In events around the region, including a bus-tour visiting 8 cuties during 16 days in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an "orange caravan" in 17 regions of Kazakhstan, interactive art exhibition in Kyrgyzstan, a Women's Congress in Ukraine and soccer and rugby matches in Kosovo[1] and Georgia, people will stand in solidarity with survivors and advocates.

Highlights from events around the region: 

7 December

Atakule Tower, Ankara, Turkey. Photo: SGDD-ASAM
Atakule Tower, Ankara, Turkey. Photo: SGDD-ASAM

In Ankara, the capital of Turkey, the iconic Atakule building was lit in orange to respond to the “orange the world” call of 16 Days of Activism in cooperation with the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) and Atakule GYO. At a flashmob activity, hundreds of ASAM and Atakule Mall personnel said “Hear Me Too” in Turkish. The hashtag of the campaign and UN Women’s campaign video were screened on the top of the building.

4 December

The Regional United Nations Development Group for Europe and Central Asia, Issue-based Coalition on Gender Equality, took action on social media on 4 December to promote the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, also known as the Istanbul Convention as part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. The action aimed to raise awareness on the importance of the Convention, which is the first legally binding instrument in the world creating a comprehensive legal framework to protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence.

3 December

Image from the theatre performance "LIBERĂ". Photo: UN Women Moldova/ Ramin Mazur.
Image from the theatre performance "LIBERĂ". Photo: UN Women Moldova/ Ramin Mazur

Over 700 people have attended the premiere of the theater performance „Liberă” (“Free” - from Romanian), directed by Ianoș Petrașcu, at the National Philharmonic Hall in Chisinau, Moldova. The performance addresses the issue of violence against women and its repercussions on the future generation. It’s a play about patterns, written and unwritten laws of life. It is the story of a teenage girl, who faces gender stereotypes and her tumultuous path towards achieving her dream. Read more.

Photo: UN Women
Photo: UN Women

On 3 December, UN Women in Ukraine, together with civil society organizations Theatre for Dialogue and LGBTI NGO Insight, organized a theater performance to address the various forms of violence experience by LBTI women in Ukraine. The performance illustrated the real-life situations where women experience domestic violence, and violence from the medical staff, law-enforcement and radical organizations. As a part of the performance, ten LBT women participants from across the country learned about their rights protected under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination (#CEDAW) and how to use CEDAW in their advocacy to claim these rights.

“I decided to participate because the workshop allowed us to look at the problem of violence from psychological, social, and especially from the legal angle. And there are results: we’ve performed these various aspects, we’ve studied the laws, arrived at conclusions of what to do after. And it is just the beginning,” said Nastya, one of the participants summing up her 3-day long experience at the workshop.

In 2017 UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women expressed their concern with discrimination, harassment and hate speech in Ukraine against lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) women. It recommended Ukraine to adopt anti-discrimination legislation to protect against discrimination and violence against LBT women, as well as to ensure the availability of shelters and well-qualified trained medical staff and law-enforcement to aid in cases of violence against LBT women.

Recommendations that were developed by the participants of the workshop will serve as the basis of their further advocacy with the national government to fulfil its obligations under CEDAW.

29 November

As many as 150 people gathered at the National Museum of Serbia today to mark the launch of the 16 days of activism campaign in the country. Photo: UN Women Serbia/Zoran Petrovic
As many as 150 people gathered at the National Museum of Serbia today to mark the launch of the 16 days of activism campaign in the country. Photo: UN Women Serbia/Zoran Petrovic

In Serbia, about 150 people, including high-level government officials, UN agencies and civil society representatives, gathered at the National Museum of Serbia on 29 November to kick-off 16 Days of Activism. A virtual reality (VR) experience was the highlight of the event, where the participants viewed a scene of psychological violence towards a woman over text messages. The VR film is available for viewing at four different locations in the capital Belgrade throughout the campaign. “This year, together with you, we aim to support all those whose voices are still not yet being heard. We live in a digital world where all women are easy targets of all forms of violence in their everyday life. VR technology is especially suited for tapping into other people’s emotions and true experiences of how it feels being in someone else’s shoes,” said Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia. She, together with Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlovic and Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Mateja Norcic-Stamcar, called for urgent action to end violence against women and girls.

In Kazakhstan, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 Days of Activism were celebrated with new graffiti artwork on two walls in the center of shymkent. Also in the country, for the first time, the campaign covered all 17 regional centers of Kazakhstan with 17 flash mob dances in public places and 10 interactive theatre sessions targeted at youth raised awareness of the issues of domestic violence, violence against children, gender stereotypes and stigmatization.

  Journalists who promote gender equality have been awarded. Photo: UN Women Moldova/ Ramin Mazur
Journalists who promote gender equality have been awarded. Photo: UN Women Moldova/ Ramin Mazur

UN Women Moldova and the Association of Independent Press (API) have awarded journalists who address gender issues professionally. The award ceremony took place within the Media Forum 2018, organized during 29-30 November. The winners were selected as a result of a public contest where journalists and photojournalists from the print media, radio, TV, online media submitted their journalistic materials that tackle gender equality issues. The contest was part of the “Click for Gender Equality” Media Programme, carried out by UN Women and API during August-December 2018. Read more.

27 November

Regional forum: Promoting the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Photo: UN Women/Darko Andonovski
Regional forum: Promoting the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in the Western Balkans and Turkey. Photo: UN Women/Darko Andonovski

The Government of the former Yugoslav Republic (fYR) of Macedonia, UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, the European Union, and the Council of Europe (CoE), in partnership with European Women’s Lobby, convened a regional forum to discuss the progress in implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, within the broader commitments on gender equality and ending violence against women in the Western Balkans and Turkey. The forum aimed to accelerate implementation and facilitate dialogue among key stakeholders across the region. Read more.

26 November

On November 26, the United Nations in Ukraine hosted the Orange the World: #HearMeToo Sister Circle Event to meet sixteen female opinion leaders who stepped up to share their stories of surviving gender-based violence. Photo credit: UN Women/Alena Vladyko
Orange the World: #HearMeToo Sister Circle Event in Ukraine. Photo: UN Women/Alena Vladyko

On 26 November, the United Nations in Ukraine hosted the “Orange the World: #HearMeToo Sister Circle” event which brought together sixteen female opinion leaders who shared their stories of surviving gender-based violence. The sixteen women joined the global campaign and called for urgent action to eliminate gender-based violence. The initiative was supported by Ukrainian TV hosts Solomia Vitvitska, Yulia Zoriy and Nelya Shovkoplyas, writers Anastasia Melnychenko and Olga Yatsenko, actress Yanina Andreeva, prima-ballerina of the National Opera of Ukraine Christina Shishpor, radio host Miriam Dragina, filmmaker and producer Yana Altukhova, PR-director of the Pianoboy band Olga Shurova, member of the National Council for Reforms Vladyslava Magaletska, human rights activists Uliana Pcholkina, Anastasia Eva Domani, Olga Poliakova and Olena Strizhak.

25 November

Three hundred school students from Luhansk and Donetsk oblast participated at the Orange the World: Teens Against Violence series of events in Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions organized by the Zaporizhzhia oblast charitable foundation “Child’s Smile” and UN Women Ukraine. Photo credit: UN Women/Anastasia Tiurmenko
Three hundred school students from Luhansk and Donetsk oblast participated at the Orange the World: Teens Against Violence series of events. Photo credit: UN Women/Anastasia Tiurmenko

300 students from conflict-affected Luhansk and Donetsk oblast in eastern Ukraine participated in “Orange the World: Teens Against Violence” series of events in Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions organized by the Zaporizhzhia oblast charitable foundation “Child’s Smile” and UN Women Ukraine. The events took place in six different schools in the region and demonstrated creative, interactive and art-based approaches to raising awareness about prevention of violence against women and girls among the youth. Young boys and girls have also been introduced to some basic approaches to making a safety audit of public spaces.

UN Women in Turkey uses the symbol and inspiration of fireflies for its campaign on ending violence against women during 16 Days of Activism, and aims to encourage solidarity in this area. Fireflies use their flashing lights to protect each other from danger. The campaign aims to bring attention to creating a web of solidarity to support women who experience violence and the importance of making them realize that they are not alone. During the campaign, people are invited to “light up a firefly” on social media and share messages on ending violence against women. For more information: www.atesbocekleri.info (in Turkish)

In Durres, Albania, the municipality building was lit in orange  on 25 November. Photo: UN Women/Eduard Pagria
The municipality building in Durres, Albania. Photo: UN Women/Eduard Pagria

In Durres, Albania the municipality building was lit in orange on 25 November to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and to kick off the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. UN Women Country Representative Giuseppe Belsito and the Mayor of Durres, Vangjush Dako attended the event. 

A path in the Pristina City Park in Kosovo lit in orange. Photo: Pristina Municipality
A path in the Pristina City Park in Kosovo lit in orange. Photo: Pristina Municipality

A previously declared unsafe path in the Pristina City Park in Pristina, Kosovo, was lit up in orange. The mayor of Pristina, members of UN agencies, embassies and the community at large marched along the path to raise awareness of gender-based discrimination by highlighting the importance of gender-sensitive urban design, and call for a safer city for everyone.

All UN agencies in the country, the Government and OSCE mission to Skopje have joined forces for the campaign of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. The kick-off event was hosted in the government building and brought together high-level government representatives, members of the international community, NGOs representatives, experts and academia. The event concluded by coloring the government building in orange. Photo credits: UN Agencies Skopje
Government Building in Skopje lit in orange. Photo: UN in Skopje 

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia answered the call to “Orange the World” by lighting up the government building in orange! All UN agencies in the country, the government and the OSCE mission to Skopje have joined forces to kick-off the 16 Days of Activism campaign with a high-level event hosted in the government building. The event brought together government representatives, members of the international community, civil society, experts and academia.

The UN Country Team in Ukraine under the leadership of UN Women and UNFPA produced a video with the participation of male celebrity advocates (celebrity musicians Segiy Babkin, Taras Topolia and Valeriy Kharchychyn) who voiced the story of a woman who survived domestic violence. They highlighted the fact that every 5th woman in Ukraine experienced some type of violence in their lifetime.

Kazakhstan OrangeTheWorld2018 Baiterek Photo Credit UN  Women Sabina Mendybayeva
Baiterek Tower, Kazakhstan lit in orange. Photo: UN Women Sabina Mendybayeva

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25, a nation-wide 16 Days of Activism campaign kicked off in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital, with the support of the United Nations, the National Commission for Women, Family and Demographic Policy under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the National Volunteer Network. The iconic Baiterek monument, the symbol of new, independent and prosperous Kazakhstan, lit up in orange, embodying the hope for a life free of violence for Kazakhstani women and girls.

16 Days of Activism Photo Exhibition- Refugee response programme in Turkey

 

UN Women’s SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Center in Gaziantep, near Turkey’s border with Syria, hosted a #hearmetoo photo exhibition during 16 Days of Activism to showcase refugee women’s perspectives on violence against women. The Centre provides livelihood skills, psycho-social support and referral services to refugee and local women. It is run in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM), and the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, with financial contribution from the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the MADAD Fund, and the Government of Japan. View photos from the exhibition here.

Ukrainian singers Dmitry and Lev Shurov. Photo: Elle Magazine
Ukrainian singers Dmitry and Lev Shurov. Photo: Elle Magazine

Elle magazine in Ukraine featured male celebrity champions for gender equality, including singers Dmitry and Lev Shurov, writer Sergiy Zhadan, TV-host Michael Schur and government official Max Nefyodov, to support the 16 Days of Activism campaign. The men reflected on the root causes gender-based violence and its prevention in their interviews. – Can we use the photo of Shurovs and add this on our compilation? We can direct to the Elle magazine interviews? Can you share with us the photo? We can also promote from our Twitter and direct to the interviews. The feature was published in Elle November print issue and released as a series of online publications.

16 Days in Bosnia ans Herzegovina. Photo: UN Women
Orange public bus has visited 8 towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: UN Women

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, an Orange public bus has visited 8 towns during 16 days and traced the most frequently taken public transportation routes for eight hours per day, giving free rides to passengers while engaging them in a conversation with service providers about the elimination of violence against women. The service providers on the bus included police officers, social care workers, civil society representatives and other institutions which are included in the protection system that provides services to survivors of violence. Citizens had a chance to learn about their rights, different forms of violence and the services that are available in case they need to seek information, advice or report violence. Some of them reported violence while on the bus.

UN Women in Bosnia and Herzegovina also prepared a video for social media about the importance of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention in order to raise awareness among the public about the purposes of the Convention. The video emphasized that full implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Bosnia and Herzegovina will lead to a safer and more equal country for women and girls.

Violence against women and girls remains to be pandemic for many countries around the world, including Kazakhstan. It is a violation of human rights and freedoms, the origins of which are gender inequality and discrimination. The current video has been produced by UN Women Country Office in Kazakhstan as a part of the global communications campaign “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” in 2018.

Rakhsh Taxi company in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan oranged their taxis starting on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and during 16 Days. 200 taxis of the company are riding across Dushanbe city with the logo of the campaign. Taxi drivers are also distributing thematic leaflets to their passengers. This year UN Women and Rakhsh Taxi joined forces to reach as many as possible people during the campaign to inform them about violence against women.

Formula 1, one of the most popular restaurants in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital, supported 16 Days of Activism campaign this year by oranging staff’s attire. The staff of the restaurant wared orange caps and t-Shirts and distributed leaflets to their customers which involved important information about the campaign and the elimination of violence against women.  

"Orange Ball” mini-football tournament among non-professional girls was the concluding event of the 16 Days of Activism in Tajikistan. Organized by UN Women, the British Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital, and the State Committee for Women and Family Affairs, the tournament brought eight teams from Dushanbe and rural areas to compete for the cup. The event aimed to increase girls’ leadership and teamwork skills by building up their confidence, which is an effective way to combat violence against women and girls. Promoting gender equality and women’s leadership through sports, the footballers conveyed the “Equal sports opportunities for men and women” message to the public as well as emphasize the urgent need to eliminate violence against women and girls

Ten public minibuses that operate between Dushanbe and rural areas of Tajikistan were oranged starting from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, for 16 Days of Activism to raise awareness of rural populations on the campaign and the issue of violence against women. About 2000 leaflets about the issue have been distributed to the passengers. According to the information from the transportation company, the number of people covered by one bus per day consist of 400 people. Overall, the orange buses aim to reach 120,000 people during the campaign. The initiative was organized by UN Women in close cooperation with the Asian Development Bank and the local Tajik transportation company.

First ever Orange Umbrella Alley to symbolize protection of human rights, particularly rights of women and girls to be free from gender-based violence. Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: ISEDA Kyrgyzstan.
First ever Orange Umbrella Alley to symbolize protection of human rights, particularly rights of women and girls to be free from gender-based violence. Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: ISEDA Kyrgyzstan.

The first-ever orange umbrella alley in Osh, a city in south-west Kyrgyzstan, was the highlight of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. More than 500 people gathered at the opening of the orange alley by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Institute for Social and Economic Development Assistance (ISEDA) in partnership with UN Women. The orange umbrellas symbolize a brighter future free from violence against women and girls in Kyrgyzstan, where their human rights are respected and protected. UN Women and partners raised awareness of the local population about the status of gender-based violence in the country, 16 Days of Activism campaign and called to unite and act together to end the pandemic of violence against women and girls.

The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: European Parliament/Eve Van Soens

The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: European Parliament/Eve Van Soens

Brussels, Belgium went orange on the 25 November to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and kick off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Buildings including the European Parliament, the European Commission's Berlaymont building and The European External Action Service building were lit in orange light, and the iconic The Manneken Pis statue was dressed in orange.


Several European cities oranged their public buildings to mark the Orange the World: #HearMeToo campaign, including Italy and Liechtenstein.

23 November

Performance of children from the Center of Children’s Protection on bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: UN Women Kyrgyzstan.
Performance of children from the Center of Children’s Protection on bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: UN Women Kyrgyzstan.

The launch of the 16 Days of Activism campaign took place in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, with more than 100 people gathering at the opening of the street art exhibition - portrayal of Burulai Turdaly kyzy, a 19 year-old girl who was murdered at the police station as a result of bride kidnapping. The street art on the wall of the dormitory of the Bishkek Medical College (BMK), where Burulai used to study, calls to draw public attention to the problem of gender-based violence against women and girls, and calls on the society to eradicate the harmful practice of bride kidnapping. During the event MPs, government representatives, the UN, Medical College, civil society, young gender advocates - UN Women peer-educators, and the father of the girl made speeches with a call to action to eliminate discriminatory gender stereotypes, harmful practices such as bride kidnapping and early marriages, and to ensure the realization of human rights. At the conclusion of the event, civil society representatives handed the government information about the standards to be followed to protect women and girls from violence.

20 November

Campaign slogans on pitchside LED billboards during match. Photo: UN Kosovo Team
Campaign slogans on pitchside LED billboards during match. Photo: UN Kosovo Team

On Tuesday, 20 November, not only did Kosovo’s Football Team get one step closer to qualify for the 2020 European Football Championship, it also took a stand to end gender-based violence targeting women and girls. In the decisive match contending for the top of the group and promotion in the UEFA Nations League, Kosovo played Azerbaijan and won the home game –4:0. In collaboration with UN Women and UNDP, before kick-off, the Kosovo Football Federation announced its commitment to join the global 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence campaign. The Federation screened the campaign video, showcasing public figures calling for an end to violence, with the match moderator urging fans to take a stand against violence targeting women and girls. Throughout the 90-minute match, different 16 Days campaign related messages to end violence against women and girls, to report it, to seek help through the available helpline, and to be united against violence were displayed pitch-side on illuminated billboards. Read more.


[1] All references to Kosovo on this website shall be understood to be in full compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).