Violence against women has never been more in the public eye, with what feels like a constant stream of allegations against everyone from Hollywood superstars to government ministers hitting the headlines. But, beyond high profile cases of sexual harassment and assault, violence against women is a much bigger, global issue, believed to affect around 1 in 3 women worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.
As a teenage feminist, it’s easy to feel totally helpless in the face of such massive problems – from female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage, to rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence. But remember that every big change starts with lots of tiny steps.
Each year from the 25th November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) until 10 December (World Human Rights Day), UN Women organises 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Here are 16 ways you can get involved.
1. Go on a Reclaim The Night march
Reclaim The Night marches take place every winter in cities around the UK to protest violence against women and campaign for safer streets for women and girls. Search online for your nearest march, grab your mates, make a placard, wrap up warm, shout some feminist chants, and you’re away!
2. Join in a hashtag campaign
Whether it’s #MeToo, or #EverydaySexism, calling out incidents of sexism, harassment and violence online helps raise awareness of the scale of the problem, and empowers others to speak up too.
3. Sign a petition
It takes literally seconds of your time, but a big list of names on a petition can make a big impact. You could start with this one, which calls on the UK government to fulfil its commitment to ending violence against women.
4. Start a blog or vlog
You don’t need to be the next big internet superstar, but using an online platform to share stories, experiences and observations can be a great way to learn more, raise awareness, and connect with other feminists online.
5. Share information online
You’ll find all sorts of downloads on the bigger charities’ websites – easy to save and share on your Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or Instagram. Check out Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis or Integrate UK for just a few ideas of the resources you could share.
6. Write to your MP
You might not be able to vote for them yet, but you can still write to them! Ask what they’re doing to end violence against women, and support survivors, either locally or at a national level.
7. Get involved with youth politics and campaigns
8. Stand up to harassment at school
Easier said than done, but standing up and speaking out when you spot abusive behaviour is powerful.
9. Give as you shop
Most women’s charities depend on donations but, when you’re skint, it can be tough to decide how much and how regularly you can afford to give – especially when there are always new school books and stationery to buy. Services like Give As You Live and Easy Fundraising make it easy by donating a small commission to your chosen charity every time you shop online – and it won’t cost you a single extra penny.
10. Donate Christmas gifts to survivors of violence
If you’d rather give actual stuff to someone in need, lots of women’s charities do collections throughout the year, and Christmas is the perfect time to give. Women for Refugee Women are currently collecting unused beauty products to brighten up the holidays for women seeking asylum. Or you can buy a parcel to support women and children fleeing domestic violence through Refuge.
11. Volunteer your time
Super easy to fit in around your homework and social life, get in touch with your local women’s charities to find out how your skills can help them. Perhaps there’s a nearby rape crisis charity searching for someone who’s a pro on social media, a local refuge in need of redecorating, or an anti-FGM charity desperate for help at their next fundraising event.
12. Get your mates together for a fundraising event
Whether it’s a bake sale or a movie night, get your mates together and have a laugh in aid of a good cause, while encouraging everyone to donate what they can to your chosen women’s charity.
13. Learn more about global issues and support women internationally
Charities like Women for Women International, Womankind Worldwide, and the Dalit Freedom Network help women at risk of violence and exploitation globally, and all have plenty of opportunities for you to donate or fundraise to support their work.
14. Join or start a feminist club to tackle local issues
Alternatively, it might feel more manageable to start closer to home, by joining a feminist club in your school or community, campaigning on local issues, and fundraising to support local organisations.
15. Donate a week’s pocket money
Another way to make giving easy – donate a week’s pocket money to your chosen charity, or see how long you can quit your daily break-time Twix habit, and donate the money you’ve saved.
16. Get sponsored to challenge yourself
You totally can run that 5K, shave off all your hair, or go a week without makeup – and, what’s more, people will pay good money to your favourite charity to see you do it.
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