UNFPA Partnership: 16 Days Campaign

GBV protest line of women

Global 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign at CUNY SPH

CUNY SPH has partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the Global 16 Days Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, an initiative to bring global awareness to the widespread issue of gender-based violence, a pervasive public health threat. For over thirty years this civil society-led campaign has brought together local and global feminist activists and movements to raise awareness of the many forms of gender-based violence, its root causes and impact, and pathways to prevention and accountability. This campaign, which originally kicked off each year on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and ran for 16 days through December 10, Human Rights Day, will be transformed under CUNY SPH’s guidance into a year-round initiative.

Throughout 2024, CUNY SPH will hold a series of virtual conversations to hear from feminist activists around the globe on how they see the campaign evolving to better amplify their voices and become a 365-day-a-year effort for shifting norms, securing accountability, and transforming power structures that oppress women, girls, and gender diverse people.

Contact us at EndGBV@sph.cuny.edu to be added to our email list to find out more about upcoming events.

Group holding human rights sign

What is Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence, or GBV, is violence directed against a person because of their gender or violence that affects persons of a particular gender disproportionately. GBV is a major human rights violation that overwhelmingly affects women, girls, and gender-diverse people, and is widespread global public health crisis. Common forms of GBV include sexual, physical, psychological, and economic violence, and can intersect with forms of oppression related to gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, disability, and immigration status.

Globally, GBV is vastly under-reported. Survivors who wish to report often must overcome gaps in criminal law and procedure; stigma and victim blaming from their families, communities, and criminal justice professionals, and contend with gender and other stereotypes. National data collection systems often only track a few forms of GBV and do not disaggregate data by gender, sexual orientation, job sector, or other equity markers.

The data we do have is shocking:

One in three women and girls age 15 or older have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.

The majority of killings of women and girls are gender-motivated. On average, someone kills a woman or girl in their own family every 11 minutes.

86 percent of women and girls live in countries without legal protection against gender-based violence.

Why host the Global Campaign at CUNY SPH?

Ending GBV in our lifetimes will require gender-justice organizations and movements working in solidarity across local, national, regional, and international contexts. These organizations need to dismantle ingrained and intersecting systems, laws, norms, and practices that oppress women, girls, and gender-diverse people. Fostering such collaborations through new models of public health education, research, training, and practice rooted in innovative, interdisciplinary, multi-level work in diverse communities is central to CUNY SPH’s vision for achieving health equity. As part of the United States’ largest, oldest, and most diverse urban public university system, CUNY SPH faculty, staff, and students are connected to and engage with communities and populations around the world. The school’s gender-justice research and advocacy includes analyses of the impact of donors on who and what interventions are funded, the impact of plural legal systems on sexual and reproductive health and rights, and in 2023, the creation of a sexual and reproductive justice hub for research, education, and advocacy that centers the experiences of Black women and other women of color.

Women protesting with signs in Spanish

Building on the legacy of the Center for Global Women’s Leadership

The Global Campaign was launched in 1991 at the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute held by the Center for Global Women’s Leadership (CGWL), with the goal of raising awareness of GBV as a human rights violation. From the beginning, the Campaign brought together a diverse group of activists and researchers working at all levels from grassroots to international, and united in their belief that ending GBV requires local and global work to change the norms and systems that drive GBV in all its manifestations.

Under CGWL’s stewardship the Global Campaign gained traction in more than 187 countries, with participation from over 6,000 organizations and a reach of over 300 million. It played a pivotal role in gaining recognition of GBV as a human rights violation in the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Program of Action and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Early campaign themes addressed health impacts of GBV, cultural drivers, racism, sexism, and militarism, among others. More recent campaign themes have included femicide (2021-2022), violence against women working in the informal economy (2020), and violence and harassment in the world of work (2018 – 2019). The latter included advocacy in support of the adoption of the historic International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 190, concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work (2019). In August 2022, CWGL sadly closed its doors after 31 years of collaborative and transformative global work. The 16 Days Campaign will now be housed at CUNY SPH, ensuring that the important work of CWGL will continue going forward.