In Focus: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

Orange the world: Fund, respond, prevent, collect

Top stories |Photos |Campaign |Take action |Facts and figures 

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign is marking the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November to 10 December 2020) under the global theme, Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!". UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign is amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls.

This year is like no other. Even before COVID-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions. Globally, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year. Meanwhile, less than 40 per cent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

As countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified – in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold. In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.

In April 2020, as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 Member States responded with their strong statement of commitment. In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to COVID-19. Yet, much more is needed. 

Today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action. It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.

For the 16 Days of Activism, UN Women handed over the mic to survivors, activists and UN partners on the ground, to tell the story of what happened after COVID-19 hit. Read and share stories, get inspired by activists who are making a difference every single day, and find out how you can take action.

Top stories

What happened after COVID-19

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 243 million women and girls globally were abused by their intimate partners in the past year. Since the pandemic, with lockdowns measures, countries around the world have seen an alarming rise in reporting on violence against women, especially domestic violence. “What Happened after COVID-19 hit” brings you stories from women on the front lines and the solutions to back.

Hand over the mic

We are handing over the mic to women on the front line and our UN partners, those who are battling COVID-19 and the rising pandemic of violence against women and girls. These are the voices of survivors, essential workers, and leaders, telling us what’s urgent, and how we can stop the escalating violence, recover and rebuild from COVID-19.


16 Days of Activism around the region

Region turns orange.

This year, as in previous years, many countries from across Europe and Central Asia joined the campaign by lighting up their landmark buildings in orange and organizing a variety of events in support of the call of the campaign. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, innovative online campaigns and interactive digital art initiatives marked this year’s campaign. Here’s an overview of how Europe and Central Asia commemorated the occasion. Read more.

Generations Talk Gender: An intergenerational podcast on gender

My generation, your generation, let’s talk gender! A unique new podcast from UN Women’s Europe and Central Asia office connects gender equality activists from across generations and all walks of life. Generations Talk Gender thoughtfully explores issues of common concern for women and girls, all of which lead to one goal: gender equality, everywhere. 

The podcast was kicked off during the global 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

Listen to the first episode, "Women's plea for a world free of violence" here:75px spotify 75px apple

Documentary series: Justice for women

A series of videos, developed by the Center of Women’s Rights within the UN Women regional programme “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” funded by the European Union explore real life stories of survivors and victims of violence against women and assesses where the justice system failed them and how tragedies can be prevented. 

View more videos.

Ad campaign: A spotlight on legal gaps to end violence against women


Laws and their effective implementation are a critical foundation in the prevention of violence against women and girls and responding to this grave human rights violation. This ad campaign casts a spotlight on the legal gaps that must close — which since the onset of the pandemic has become as urgent as ever. Learn more ►

Take action

Small actions can make big impacts to end violence against women. Everyone has a role to play. What role will you play?

Illustration - women take action
10 ways you can help end violence against women, even during a pandemic
Ending violence against women is everyone’s business. Learn the ways you can make a difference, safely and impactfully.
Learn and share: A glossary of terms to know
A glossary outlining the many forms of violence against women and girls, along with other commonly used terms.


Photos from the region

Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!


Orange the World on Social media

Show your solidarity with survivors of gender-based violence and where you stand in the fight for women’s rights by oranging your social media profile for the 16 Days of Activism – you can download banners for Facebook and Twitter here.

On Instagram, you can use UN Women’s face filter to show how you are taking action to end gender-based violence and tag a friend to encourage your community to do the same.

Use #orangetheworld, #16Days and #GenerationEquality to start your own conversation about gender-based violence, or share some of the content from our social media package with sample messages and visuals in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese available here.

To kick-start your activism, click on one of the animations below and tweet it out!

See our coverage of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence from previous years: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011