The Sixteen Days of Activism is a major event for women’s rights advocates as they tie in three special observances toward the end of November and December – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which was observed yesterday, November 25; World Aids Day on December 1 and Human Rights Day on December 10. With a preview of this year’s activities here is executive director of the National Women’s Commission Ann Marie Williams.
Ms. Ann Marie Williams- National Women’s Commission
“Monday marks the start of 16 days of activism against gender based violence which is November 25th-December 10th; it actually conmemorates three important dates: it starts as the 25th, which is the zero tolerance day to end violence against women. World Aids day is December 1st and it combinates with International Human Rights day on December 10th. This day, the Women’s Commission has decided, as part of its campaign to launch a public campaign whereby, Belizeans from all walks of life can get involved in ending violence against women”.
There is a special campaign against violence against women, highlighted by the choice to wear orange on the 25th day of each month. That campaign will be on television. But we asked Williams: is that enough?
Ms. Ann Marie Williams: “Violence is not only a physical thing; it’s also psychological. When you grow up in a society where you find that it is easy for people to just slap or hit somebody and think it is okay, when you wear something on your sleeve [so to speak], and you internalize it, it is easier for you to try to end it. Particularly when you look at the cost of violence, the world agrees that when you take care of girls, provide them with the types of education that they need, the types of information in terms of sexual and reproductive health, support from community and family and government as a duty bearer providing policies and laws to try to protect girls, girls grow up to be better women and they also get pregnant at a later time. Girls grow up to be women. So, we must realize that we cannot be violating our women and our girls because it shows that when women thrive, all the society benefits”.
We also asked whether either sex is more to blame for violent incidents against women. Williams in response called for attitudes in general to change.
Ms. Ann Marie Williams: “I think before it gets to a police matter, we need to realize that yes, we need to raise better children. We need to raise better boys and we need to raise strong girls. When we look at violence, we see all the violence in the street, but violence in the street is actually an indicative of violence in the home. So, because of that the girls should only be strong. We should raise strong boys too to become the types of men that we want our girls to marry and our girls to be with. In other words, when we raise better children, we have by extension, a better society, and a better world. So, the values we hold fast as a community; yes we will have men who will try to violate, and it’s in the women’s power to say, I am not going to tolerate it anymore, because one slap today ends in death tomorrow”.
The 2013 theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women.”