Sexual and reproductive health

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, officially recognized by the United Nations since 1999. It marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, a civil society-originated initiative, culminating on 10 December, Human Rights Day. Every year, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women invites everyone to “Orange the world to end violence against women and girls”. Throughout this time, people around the world wear orange – the colour of the UNiTE campaign, symbolising a brighter future without violence.

– Staff at WHO HQ, Geneva, come together wearing orange to symbolise their support for a brighter future without violence.
‘WHO Wears Orange’ – Staff at WHO HQ, Geneva, come together wearing orange to symbolise their support for a brighter future without violence.

WHO staff showed their solidarity for the campaign with ‘WHO Wears Orange’ – the first ‘flashmob’ event to take place at WHO headquarters. At midday sharp, on the Thursday 26 November, 150 people working across WHO came together wearing orange to symbolise a brighter future without violence against women and girls. Participants included Assistant Director General for Family, Women's and Children's Health, departmental directors, as well as the Executive Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. The event was led and organised by WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research/HRP.

Strengthening the medico-legal response to sexual violence

New toolkit to strengthen the medico-legal response to sexual violence

In the past 20 years, increasing attention has been paid to ending impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence in conflict-affected settings and to achieving assistance and justice for victims.

WHO Director General Margaret Chan joined the campaign by wearing orange alongside Dr Flavia Bustreo. “WHO strongly condemns violence against women and girls and supports partners and countries’ efforts towards the de-normalization of this type of violence. Ensuring equality between women and men is a crucial part of these efforts”, said Dr Chan.

WHO estimates suggest that one in three women globally have experienced either physical or sexual violence from a partner, or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. This is a global problem that touches all of our lives, and the lives of many of our colleagues, family and friends. WHO is working with Member States towards a Global Plan of action to strengthen the role of national health systems in countering violence against women and girls. In addition, WHO also develops tools that health and other professionals can use to respond to cases they might have.

Staff working on an HRP study on the persistence of the Ebola virus disease in survivors, at Military Hospital 34 in Freetown, Sierra Leone wear orange in support of the campaign.
Staff working on an HRP study on the persistence of the Ebola virus disease in survivors, at Military Hospital 34 in Freetown, Sierra Leone wear orange in support of the campaign.
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