Yesterday (Thursday, 25th November) Savera UK and Zonta London (a member of Zonta International) hosted a launch event to mark the beginning of Orange the World 2021 and 16 Days of activism centred on ending gender-based violence.
At Lovelocks Coffee Shop in Liverpool city centre yesterday we were joined by speakers who discussed why we must tackle violence against women and girls and what can be done to support the organisations doing this work.
Savera UK Chair Aislinn O’Dwyer chaired yesterday’s panel and explained as we start the 16 Days of activism for Orange The World, we want to raise awareness of the fight against gender-based violence and abuse, which includes harmful practices such as forced marriage and child marriage, ‘honour’-based abuse (HBA) and female genital mutilation (FGM).
The Lord Mayor of Liverpool Councillor Mary Rasmussen led a moment of silence for those who have been lost to male violence before discussing sobering statistics including how globally, 137 women each day are killed by a member of their own family. The Lord Mayor urged people to continue working together to raise awareness, and ended her speech by saying “All do what you can. We have got to keep going.”
A member of Savera UK Youth read two moving poems, one titled ‘Honour’ and a second titled ‘A Woman’s Mind’.
Savera UK Founder and CEO, Afrah Qassim, explained the 16 Days of activism toolkit was this year created in partnership with Zonta London in response to feedback last year from organisations and activists who wanted to get involved but didn’t know how.
Our toolkit centres each day on a theme, with actions people can take to get involved..
Assistant Chief Constable Ngaire Waine of Merseyside Police explained the force receives 250 reports of sexual offences every month and outlined the work the force is doing to tackle gender-based violence. She said the force takes domestic violence “very seriously”.
Unfortunately, Merseyside Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell was unable to attend the event but shared a video message in which she explained the scale of the issues we face, including that every minute the UK police are called to an incident of domestic abuse.
The PCC said: “The reality is that gender-based violence and abuse does not occur in a vacuum. It is part of a society that allows misogyny and patriarchal attitudes to fester that leads to these types of behaviours going unpunished. If we don’t address these daily occurrences of harassment and abuse and call it out for what it is, we will never seriously change things in our society for the better.” You can watch the video message in full here.
Finally, Dianne Jeans of Zonta London discussed the important campaigning their organisation does to raise awareness of issues surrounding gender-based violence. She explained day two of the 16 Days of activism, (Friday 26th November), was themed on envisioning, and asked people to share the futures they envision for women and girls by writing them on tags provided and hanging them on the envisioning tree.
Savera UK was deeply saddened to hear later that same evening two murder investigations were launched following the deaths of 12-year-old Ava White and a 47-year-old woman who has not been named.
The events that happened in Liverpool last night do not reflect the world that we want. The world that we envision – and the one that we will continue to fight to create – is one where all women are free to live and thrive without fear of abuse, violence or death.
Our thoughts remain with the victims’ families at this tragic time.