Let’s Orange the World to End Violence Against Women

It is up to all of us to prevent violence against women everywhere as we work to beat COVID-19 says Rodriguez and Varbanova.

Written By Alvaro Rodriguez, United Nations Officer in Charge for Turkey, Asya Varbanova, UN Women Turkey Country Director

In 2020, COVID-19 touched our lives in nearly every way, everywhere. As countries went into lockdown and restricted movement to contain the spread of the virus, reports of violence against women and girls began to rise.

Even before COVID-19, violence against women was one of the most widespread violations of human rights, with almost 18 percent of women and girls experiencing physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner within the last year. During COVID-19, calls to violence against women helplines in some countries increased up to five fold in the first few weeks of the pandemic. For every 3 months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million women are expected to be affected by violence.

We need a global collective effort to end this “shadow pandemic” together with governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, and the media.

Every year since 2008, the United Nations Secretary General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, with the theme “Orange the World”, calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts, and share knowledge and innovations. The UNiTE Campaign is in support of the international annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which commences on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

This year, under the leadership of the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, and managed by UN Women, the campaign takes place under the global theme: "Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!" In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it calls all partners to fund essential services as well as women’s organizations who are the forefront, to respond to the needs of survivors, to prevent gender-based violence from happening in the first place by challenging cultural and social norms, and having a zero tolerance policy, and to collect data for improvement of services, programmes and policies.

Light a Firefly and Take a Stand Against Cyber Violence!

Violence against women is manifested in different forms, including violence which is online and facilitated by Information and Communication Technology (cyberviolence). As a result of restrictive measures imposed due to COVID-19 and with schools and workplaces operating online, people spend more time at home and on online platforms.

While there is still a lack of comprehensive global definition and data on cyber violence, research suggests that women and girls are both disproportionately targeted and suffer serious consequences as a result. As all forms of violence against women, cyberviolence affect women’s sense of safety, their physical and psychological health, their dignity and rights. It impacts women and their families, their extended community and societies more broadly.

To raise public awareness on the manifestations and consequences of cyber violence against women and girls, including during the pandemic, UN Women Turkey is launching “Light the Dark” campaign during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Fireflies, the symbol of the campaign, will light the screens to draw attention to cyber violence against women and girls and create an online solidarity network. We invite all to join the campaign and become part of this solidarity movement.

Ending violence against women and girls should remain a priority during the pandemic. It is up to all of us to prevent it everywhere, from our homes to our screens, as we work to beat COVID-19. Together, we can and must make that happen.

Written by
Alvaro Rodriguez
Officer-in-Charge for UN Turkey
Alvaro Rodriguez
Asya Varbanova
Turkey Country Director
UN Women
Asya Varbanova
UN entities involved in this initiative
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations
United Nations Information Centre