Today November 25 marks the start of the #16DaysofActivism Against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

The 2018 theme is Orange the World: #HearMeToo.

Violence against women and girls is still a global pandemic. Around the world, one in three women have experienced some form of violence, either sexual or physical violence. It is concerning to note that there is widespread consensus that domestic violence, sexual harassment and other acts of gender-based violence are unacceptable. However, the acts of violence and abuse remain pervasive across the world.

Around the world, one in three women have experienced some form of violence, either sexual or physical violence, and the time to act is now to ensure change.

From today (25 November) through 10 December, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence aim to raise public awareness and mobilising people everywhere to bring about change.

According to the UN, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

Read: Fighting violence against women and patriarchy: Leave no one behind

To commemorate this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Secretary-General’s UNiTE Campaign is calling upon us to stand in solidarity with survivors and survivor advocates and women’s human rights defenders who are working to prevent and end violence against women and girls.

“Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free from fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.” — UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a message to mark the day.

Today Africa joins the rest of the world to observe efforts to end violence, and the 16 Days of Activism dedicated to raising awareness, and mobilizing efforts against Gender-Based Violence.

While we commend the significant efforts made by various African countries to strengthen efforts to end violence against women, we also note that more needs to be done to raise prevent and combat the scourge, as well as providing support to victims of violence. There is also need to increase financial investment in programmes which target ending violence against women. The UN notes that, one of the major challenges to efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls worldwide is the substantial funding shortfall.