“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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2 Comments

  1. Dr. Necessitor says:

    40% of gendered violence in the US is committed by women against men. Why do feminists ignore that plank lodged in their collective eye?

  2. Allison Pfotzer says:

    Hi–
    Thanks for leaving a comment on this article, I didn’t see it until now (apologies for that).

    It seems that your stat is from the UK paper the Guardian for a UK based charity Parity? If you’re wanting to discuss the UK, we can but you mentioned the US in your comment. For the United States, the statistics I’m looking at are these, http://www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/ mostly self-reported which are better than if we’re just using intervention base reported data because (as I’m sure you know) most people who do experience interpersonal violence (IPV) don’t report it–as it’s usually from someone they know.
    Some stats:

    “Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their functioning.
    Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of IPV that included rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
    1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”

    Here’s sort of the overarching thought from me: it’s horrible should anyone experience violence–especially IPV–from someone they know and trust. Currently women, in the US and worldwide, are disproportionately more affected than men by this problem. A great deal of it is founded in the value placed in men and women, that men are worth more than women and therefore men can treat women in certain ways–which include physically hurting them. This thinking can extend to why anyone uses violence–beliefs that they are valued higher than others and that violence is thus permissible.
    Furthermore, there are social norms that allow this violence to continue. Some of which are cultural; founded in traditional culture, popular culture, pornographic culture, and many other forms of normative conditioning that tell people they can inflict physical violence upon others. All of it hurts people of any gender. I fully acknowledge that men are also facing violence, but please also bare in-mind two things:

    1- this article was written to highlight the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

    2-You may ask why’s there no such day for men? That is because we don’t have to live in binaries where it is one or another: we can both acknowledge that there remains rampant violence against both genders and say that a campaign to end violence against women is a decision that will benefit everyone. This is because inclusion of males in these campaigns and programs is crucial.

    What I continue to learn, to get to your latter comment, is that there is not one “collective feminist movement.” What is more, behavior change and societal change are huge, and the more perspectives and ideas on-board the better! So, if you want to eradicate gender-based violence–it seems we have a common goal.

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