“Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights,” declared Hillary Clinton at the 1995 U.N. Council on the Status of Women.
More than 20 years later, this pivotal speech is still referred to as a global wake-up call regarding daily violations against women’s basic rights.
Further, Clinton’s loss in the presidential election should by no means lessen or discourage the efforts of advancing the status of women. It is now more important than ever that we continue fighting.
The international community is currently in the midst of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign, a U.N.-sponsored initiative which calls for the elimination of all forms of violence against women. The campaign kicked off Nov. 25, with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a day of remembrance for female victims and survivors of violence, and runs until December 10th.
According to UN Women, today, 35 percent of women and girls experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. More than 700 million women alive today were married as children, with one in three married before the age of 15.
In response to these harsh realities, it is important to reinvigorate the idea that all people, regardless of gender, have the right to not only safety, but also support. Across the United States and the world, universities and community centers are showing solidarity and marking days of action with events, walkouts, rallies and speaker series.
In this tightly-connected global community, its members have the responsibility to be impactful globally by acting locally. On campus, there are movements to stop the global problem of sexual assault. Hoyas have also taken a stand in support of human rights with the movement to prevent sexual assault and support survivors. After the 2016 Georgetown Sexual Assault and Misconduct Climate Survey, which revealed that 31 percent of female undergraduates experienced non-consensual sexual contact since entering Georgetown, new initiatives have emerged on campus aiming to prevent violence against women and to assist those who survived such violence.
In response to these results, President DeGioia called for urgent action: Raise awareness of campus resources, implement a Required Annual Training and establish a new Sexual Assault and Misconduct Task Force comprised of students, faculty and staff.
Even before the survey was released to the Georgetown community, student activists have and continue to lead a wide variety of efforts that include the Sexual Assault Peer Educators, who lead peer-facilitated discussion, training and education, Take Back the Night, a student advocacy group committed to the fight against gendered violence, “Are You Ready?,” a program hosted in the fall semester and “I Am Ready,” a performance held during New Student Orientation.
As members of the Georgetown community, we are horrified but not surprised at the incredibly high rates of sexual assault on campus and call on our fellow Hoyas to act in response by becoming involved in the countless initiatives available on campus. Let’s become a space where women can feel respected, safe and supported, instead of attacked and belittled.
Worldwide, individuals and groups participate in the 16 Days Campaign by strengthening local work efforts, providing strategy-sharing forums and demonstrating solidarity. But it is important that we also focus efforts in addressing the fact that the global problem of sexual violence is not at all removed from campus life.
We have the responsibility to have a greater impact on humanity than ever before in history. So use your power as a member of the community to speak up and act to end violence against women by becoming involved on campus, because 16 days of awareness simply is not enough.
Carolina Sosa is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. Allison Pfotzer is a junior in the School of Foreign Service.
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