The UN today marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women with a call to end to what it calls a "global pandemic" of aggression against women and girls.
"Orange your Neighbourhood" is the name of the campaign which runs from November 25 to December 10. The 16 days of activism against gender violence encourages individuals around the world to galvanise into action, organising events and debates on relevant issues.The colour orange has been chosen to symbolise a brighter, violence free future.
Women are beaten in their homes, harassed on the streets, bullied on the internet. Globally, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in her life.
According to UN statistics, 35 percent of women and girls globally experience physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime. The figures are far higher in some countries rising to as much as 7 in 10 women facing abuse. While worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million were less than 15 years old on their wedding day.
The UNICEF report, Early Marriage, details the impact marriage before the age of 18 has on educational prospects as well as the likelihood of related domestic violence and complications in childbirth.
"Everyone has a responsibility to prevent and end violence against women and girls, starting by challenging the culture of discrimination that allows it to continue," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated at the start of the campaign.
Women's activists have marked November 25 as a day against violence since 1981. The date was chosen to commemorate the 1960 assassination of three sisters from the Mirabal family who were political activists in the Dominican Republic, and were murdered on the orders of then Dominican ruler, Rafael Trujillo.
In her letter of address, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka UN Women executive director stated: "Women are beaten in their homes, harassed on the streets, bullied on the internet. Globally, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in her life."
In 1994, 189 governments collaborated in Beijing to adopt a Platform for Action spelling out key strategies to end violence against women, to empower women, and to achieve gender equality.
Mlambo-Ngcuka, concluded that: "The promises from 20 years ago are still valid today. Together we must make 2015 the year that marks the beginning of the end of gender inequality. Now is the time for action."
Campaign organisers hope that neighbourhood and regional events will raise awareness of the issue of violence against women leading to realistic solutions that would work at the community level.