16 Days of Action: Voices of Change

Have you been following along the #16Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign? From November 25 to December 10, individuals and organizations around the world have campaigned to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

The 16 Days of Activism Campaign kicked off on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues each year.


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In recent years, survivors and activists have ensured the issues of sexual violence stay in the spotlight, and social media has greatly helped to elevate this cause. Campaigns such as “MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, and #NotOneMore, among others, have helped prevent survivors from being ignored and silences, while gathering support worldwide.

And while the surge of online support has definitely made it easier for many victims to come forward, the digital world also plays a key part in spreading messages of hate. It is far too easy to spew messages of hatred or threats from behind a computer screen, let alone the many other ways the Internet can serve as its own weapon - objectifying women, posting nude images on public spheres, and harassing females on social media platforms. We saw this vile force of harassment on our Twitter platform over the 16 Days of Activism, where we shared messages from strong advocates working in the field. We strongly condemn these actions of woman abuse and see this as a strong reminder that the work we do is still just as crucial as it was 30 years ago. We know we have come a long way, but we are only partway there.

30% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an initmate partner over their lifetime

During these past 16 days, we focused on one main aspect of this campaign: voices of change. We believe that by opening the doors of conversation and supporting survivors to come forward, that we can help eliminate gender-based violence while working toward solutions for change. Today’s youth are our future and their beliefs and behaviours play a large part in ensuring future generations grow up respecting women’s rights and advocating for equality and fairness for all. This year, we focused on educating youth and teaching everyone how to look out for warning signs of dating violence as well as how to respond if you think someone you know is in an abusive situation. Taking clips from our popular Healthy Talks for Young Adults series, we’re sharing short video clips below with important messages and calls to action. Please share these messages so that we can all do our part in ending violence against women.

Day 1: It was her job to talk about violence against women, but she had to hide her own experience from everyone else. Hear why it is so important it is to keep the doors of discussion open and why.

- Julie Lalonde, Women’s Rights Advocate & Public Educator

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Day 2: Isolation from friends and family is a huge red flag for a potentially abusive relationship.… Watch to see why.

- Keetha Mercer, Canadian Women’s Foundation

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Day 3: Why is it problematic that women feel they can’t express their sexuality or take sexy photos? Women shouldn’t have to worry about victim shaming when choosing what feels good to them. It’s time we flip the script back onto the perpetrator.

– Kelsey Adams, Anova

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Day 4: Male entitlement is a big contributing factor to harassment and violence. When entitled men face rejection and don’t get what they want from women, this can easily lead to abuse.

– Julie Lalonde, Women’s Rights Advocate & Public Educator

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Day 5: Movies, TV shows, popular culture can give us twisted ideas about romance and healthy relationships. Hugely popular movies like The Notebook and Twilight may do more harm than good.

- Veronique Church-Duplessis, White Ribbon Campaign

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Day 6: Technology plays a huge part in how we view women’s bodies. Females are constantly sexualized and viewed only as entertainment, especially marginalized women and women of colour.

– Dianne Lalonde, Learning Network

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Day 7: Masculinity teaches men that rejection is something to be ignored; just keep trying until you get what you want. This leads to avoidance behaviour and all ties into violence. Hear how.

– Karen B.K. Chan, Fluid Exchange

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Day 8: Consent needs to be a constant evolution. Getting consent once doesn’t mean you always have it. Get it at all stages of an encounter and relationship.

- Dr. Nadine Thornhill, Education Consultant & Sex Educator

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Day 9: A healthy sexual relationship needs to be mutual but that doesn’t mean you each get the same thing. Each person in a relationship needs to be able to voice what they want and need.

– Dr. Nadine Thornhill, Education Consultant & Sex Educator

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Day 10: You don’t need to rush a sexual experience! If someone is truly into you, there will be time. Never assume, always ask.

– Steph Guthrie, Filmmaker (A Better Man) & Education Consultant

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Day 11: Why is pleasure never talked about in school? It’s normally avoided or glossed over but this isn’t doing any favours to youth. Let’s open the conversation! Here why.

– Dr. Nadine Thornhill, Education Consultant & Sex Educator

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Day 12: Girls need safe, inclusive spaces open to all. They need to be able to unpack questions & conversations about sex so they feel empowered to make choices that feel best for them.

– Steph Guthrie, Filmmaker (A Better Man) & Education Consultant

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Day 13: Always check in with friends. Ask questions, initiate, and validate. Keep lines of communication open so people know they have someone to talk to if they’re experience abuse.

– Julie Lalonde, Women’s Rights Advocate & Public Educator

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Day 14: What’s the most important thing you can do for a friend if she tells you she’s in an abusive or unhealthy relationship? First, believe them and listen! Hear why in today’s clip.

– Keetha Mercer, Canadian Women’s Foundation

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Day 15: There’s a big thing that educators can do to teach healthy relationship principles and consent to their students.

- Matt Sereda, Learning Equity Coordinator, Thames Valley District School Board

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Day 16: Modelling consent, talking about sex, providing girls safe spaces, teaching healthy masculinity and how to handle rejection, always checking in with your partner, and looking out for each other. There’s something that all of us can do to end gender-based violence, whether it’s in the home, amongst friends and family, or at the workplace or other organization. Our voices and actions have the power to create change. Ending violence against women starts with every single one of us. Watch our final montage video to get a glimpse into what we can do for youth especially, to teach healthy relationship principals.

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To view all our talks in the Healthy Talks for Young Adults series, visit our Facebook page