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The 16 Days of Activism Campaign is an international United Nations-endorsed initiative that takes place annually from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day). The period was designated by the UN General Assembly to raise public awareness on gender-based violence in line with resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999.


The South African Government has run a parallel campaign since 1998. As the 16 Days Activism Campaign matures in the country, it has evolved to include issues relating to violence against children as well. Since 2019, with the establishment of the Ministry in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, the campaign is broadened to also look at issues of violence against the youth, the LGBTQIA+ community and persons with disabilities, in particular women and children with disabilities. The period also allows reflection on violence and abuse experienced by women pushed to the periphery of society – women migrant workers, and illegal citizens, and sex workers, etc.


Other key commemorative days observed annually during this 16-Day period include World Aids Day on 1 December and the International Day for Persons with Disabilities on 3 December.


The 16 Days Activism Campaign continues to generate a heightened level of awareness amongst South Africans on the deleterious effect and impact of gender-based violence and femicide on our society. Over the past two decades, all partners, especially government, working with civil society, have been making concerted efforts in raising awareness about the 16 Days of Activism campaign within a broader approach of 365 days of action to address the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide in the country.


“Socio-Economic Rights and Empowerment to build Women’s Resilience against Gender Based Violence and Femicide: Connect, Collaborate, Contract!”


Social empowerment is fundamental to women achieving and fully enjoying their human rights. However, women’s ability to do this is hampered by patriarchal practices and negative social norms. Economic empowerment is one of the most powerful routes for women to achieve their potential and advance their rights. It promotes women's ability to reduce household poverty, hunger and food insecurity, as well as reducing the heightened levels of inequalities they face on a daily basis. Women’s economic resilience will enable them to walk away from situations that make them vulnerable to GBVF, and to take control of their own lives and that of their children.


The absence of social and economic power for women creates patterns of violence and poverty which over time become self-perpetuating, making it particularly difficult for the victims to detach themselves from abusive relationships. Thus the programmes embarked on in the 2022/23 fiscal year must be geared towards addressing both social imbalances of power as well as economic marginalisation that women expereince – which are fundamental drivers of GBVF.