16 highlights from 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2023

In this post, we highlight 16 actions and initiatives that members and partners of MenEngage Alliance undertook during 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.

16 Days of Activism takes place each year from 25 November to 10 December. The 16 Days campaign begins with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on 25 November each year. It runs until 10 December, which is International Human Rights Day. It is an important period of collective actions, campaigning, and events to amplify and support the efforts by diverse feminist organizations, networks and movements to end all violence against women and girls, in all their diversities.

While not an exhaustive list, this article highlights some of the activities that took place during #16Days 2023, among our members and partners across the world. In particular, we highlight those activities with a focus  on transforming patriarchal masculinities and collaborating with men and boys to achieve gender, climate and social justice.

If you know about a relevant activity that is not included here, please email admin@menengage.org.

Activities by MenEngage networks

1. National MenEngage networks take to streets in Africa

A collage of social media posts by MenEngage country networks across Africa about their 16 Days activities

MenEngage Networks in Eswatini, Cameroon, Madagascar, Democratic republic of the Congo, Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Rwanda and others took part in demonstrations, dialogues, and on-the-ground actions on the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25th November, and through 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. Read more about the actions across sub-Saharan Africa on the MenEngage Africa website.

2. ‘The missing piece: engaging #men in preventing machista violence’ in the Iberian peninsula

People on in-person panel event

As part of its 16 Days of Activism efforts, MenEngage Iberia worked with the Dutch embassy in Spain to host an in-person dialogue event around the why and how of involving men in the prevention of gender-based violence.

3. Jamaica network calls on men to say no to GBV

Young voices from CariMAN Jamaica called on men to say no to gender based violence in this short video.

4. #HowToTalkWithMen: Calling men and boys in to end gender-based violence in the run-up to #16Days

In the lead up 16 Days of Activism, MenEngage Alliance members shared their personal testimonials around the question of #HowToTalkWithMen about gender equality, women’s rights, ending GBV, supporting LGBTQI rights, and other intersectional feminist issues.

Activities by partners

5. CREA’s Visible/Invisible Campaign

Amplifying Voices Breaking Silence

CREA’s #VisibleInvisible campaign commissioned 16 different artists to produce a piece making visible the exclusion and violence faced by gender diverse and disabled people throughout 16 Days. In their own words, CREA reflected: ‘As the 16 Days of Activism culminate on this Human Rights Day, we reflect on the powerful stories we have shared—the experiences and voices too often left out and left behind. We have delved into the challenges brought on by invisibility that is, in turn, fueled by structural exclusion, a lack of comprehensive data or a commitment to change. By amplifying these voices, breaking the silence, and demanding recognition, we take a crucial step toward a world free from gender-based violence. Beyond these 16 days, our commitment persists. Every story counts!’

6. COFEM’s Feminist Sloth 🦥

Comic-strip style illustration with a cartoon sloth saying: 1: hi Sloth what would you want the donors to know about finding for ending violence against women? 2. Center and listen to women and girls in all their diversity. 3. Do we really need all those pages of applications and reports? Can we make things easier and more accessible? 4. Operational budgets are as important as administrative budgets. Activists, too, deserve fair pay for the amazing work they do. #RadicalResourcing4EVAWG

For 16 Days of Activism, Coalition of Feminists for Social Change (COFEM) took a playful approach by introducing to us to the Feminist Sloth 🦥. The Feminist Sloth character shares insights on challenges and opportunities for investing in the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

7. Advancing Learning & Innovation on Gender Norms (ALIGN): The power of artivism

Illustrations with text: What yo need to know about Artivism. Articism is when art is used by artists as political expression or by activists to further their cause. Articism is a tool that can transformthos witnessing, participating in, or making it. Artivism can denoune and raise awareness on social issues, for example femicide or gender-based violence.

ALIGN took an artistic approach to communicate how gender based violence manifests itself, and to engage people in taking action to end it. As ALIGN says, “art can amplify our voices and make a lasting impact.”

8. Invest to prevent violence against women

Illustration of activists with text: 'Episode 2: Invest in building and strengthening feminist leadership (part 1) - JASS Just Power. 16 Days of Activism

A host of feminist organizations and networks mobilized around calls for a step-up in quality and quantity of funding for violence prevention. JASS (just Associates) released a series of 6 videos calling for investment in feminist leadership, collective power, gender and racial justice, solidarity across borders and issues, collective protection and care, and radical imagination to prevent and end violence. In a similar vein, Prevention Collaborative’s #InvestingWisely campaign, promoted during and after 16 Days, examines the current funding landscape, and invites inputs to better inform donor practices and priorities for effective violence prevention programming via this short survey.

Activities by members of MenEngage Alliance

9. ABAAD: Our bodies are not battlefields and never should be

In addition to various advocacy efforts and social media messaging, ABAAD created a 60-second video with the central message “women’s bodies are not battlefields”. The phrase highlights how military warfare and conflict lead to increased levels of violence experienced by women and girls. At the same time, concerns about women’s safety continue to be used as a pretext to justify militarism and conflict around the world. As many feminist organizations have noted, such arguments are based on a patriarchal logic of control over women, and do not address the root causes of violence against women and girls, but rather reinforce them. 

ABAAD’s 2023 theme builds further awareness to an issue highlighted in a #16Days campaign called ‘Protection Doesn’t Protect’, run in 2021 by CREA, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific), and Akili Dada. The campaign emphasized how policies and laws that come under the guise of ‘protection’ in fact increase vulnerabilities.

10. Beyond Equality promotes Reflection and action during 16 Days

Beyond Equality 16 Days of refleciton & action

Beyond Equality is a UK based organization with the mission to “engage “men and boys in workplaces, universities and schools so that they can rethink masculinities and create change.” For 16 Days of Activism they called on men to not only reflect, but also actively engage in ending violence against women and girls. Aiming to activate men to challenge the normalization of sexism and misogyny, Beyond Equality invited men and boys to sign up to a series of emails, one for each day of 16 days, that took them on a step-by-step journey of learning, reflection, and action for gender justice.

11. New GBV toolkit published by Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Dive into our toolkit on gender based violence. It's filled with valuable knowledge and practical strategies, serving as your comprehensive resourcefor understanding and countering gender based violence.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) launched a toolkit on ending Gender Based Violence during 16 Days of Activism. The toolkit explains how and why GBV is a “structural issue, intricately linked to systemic inequalities”. It introduces some essential terminology when doing the work of mitigating and preventing GBV, and outlines concrete steps that can be taken to mitigate GBV. Access the toolkit here.

12. Fathers speaking up in Rwanda

These men, part of a #GEWEP Men Engage club, share how vital it is for them to become supportive fathers and partners. Despite facing community backlash, they've chosen to break free from the

During #16Days, Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (RWAMREC) shared testimonies of men who have taken part in their fatherhood program via their Twitter page. Through community building efforts, RWAMREC is seeking to mobilize men as committed and accountable allies for gender justice.

13. Experimenting with AI images to share GBV messaging in Croatia

AI-generated image of boy with text in Croatian

As stated by Status M, ‘the boy in the picture isn’t real (he is an AI generated image), but statistics, unfortunately, are. They clearly show that the problem of gender based violence is a problem of men.’  For the 16 Days of Activism, each day Status M posted an AI-generated an image of boys and men and shared statistics about gender based violence to highlight how violence against women and girls is not natural, normal or inevitable. 

14. #ResponsibleTogether: A call to action led by Work with Perpetrators European Network

For the 16 Days Of Activism, the European Network for the Work with Perpetrators ran their #ResponsibleTogether campaign, first launched in 2018. As stated by Work With Perpetrators, ‘The #ResponsibleTogether23 campaign during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence unites 19 WWP EN member organisations across 13 countries in shedding light on the critical role of perpetrator programmes in ending domestic violence.’

15. White Ribbon UK campaigned to #ChangeTheStory around men’s violence against women

We can stop violence before it starts by calling it out. It really is as simple as saying, 'I'm not ok with that', yet many struggle to find examples in their lives of men doing this. Thank you to this young man for showing his peers what it means to be an ally. #ChangeTheStory

For 2023, White Ribbon UK led their campaign to raise awareness to end gender based violence with tagline Change The Story. The campaign shared stories of how boys and men, in their own capacities, are mobilizing to end gender based violence. By amplifying these stories and showcasing men taking action, Change the Story sends a powerful message: ending GBV requires collective effort, and men and boys have a critical role to play in creating a safer and more just world for all.

16. Trans visibility, solidarity, and inclusion through #ShortLifeStories: a video and campaign by WhiteRibbon Canada

Still from the film of three people smiling with the text: Short Life Stories

As part of Transgender Awareness Week, and running through into 16 Days of Activism,  White Ribbon Canada drew attention to the under-acknowledged issue of gender-based violence against trans people. Through their film, Short Life Stories, we are introduced to a young woman as she embraces the beginning of her new life as openly trans and navigates the challenges that ensue. Through the film and associated campaign, White Ribbon aims to educate men and boys on the intersection of gender-based violence and transphobia, and how healthy masculinities can be a powerful form of allyship.

More information about 16 Days of Activism

16 Days of Activism is an opportunity to bring men and boys into the movement as active and accountable allies against violence and oppression. Through creative campaigns, members and partners of MenEngage Alliance use the period to promote equitable gender norms—particularly to male audiences—that are needed to end violence against women and gender-based violence across all levels of society.

Key awareness-raising days that fall within the 16 Days of Activism are:

  • Women Human Rights Defenders Day, 29 November
  • International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, 29 November
  • World AIDS Day, 1 December
  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3rd December
  • International Dignified Menstruation Day, 8 December
  • The anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, a mass killing that took place in Montreal on 6 December, 1991.
  • Human Rights Day, 10 December
19 December 2023