In commemoration of the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, we are highlighting activists and organizations who are using the power of video in their campaigns to address gender-based violence through a series of guest posts. To kick it off and introduce the 16 Days Campaign, our first post is by Julie Ann Salthouse.
Julie Ann Salthouse is the Program Coordinator of the 16 Days Campaign and other projects related to violence against women and militarism at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Julie holds an MA in women’s and gender studies from Rutgers University, where she also serves as a lecturer.
Images of masculinity and militarism pervade mass media across the world, with aggressive male behavior, sexually exploited feminine bodies, and pictures of conflict saturating visual culture. These images contribute to the normalization of violence in our everyday lives. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign seeks to highlight the links between the culture of militarism and gender-based violence through our 2011 Campaign theme, “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!”
This theme emerged from a strategic conversation on militarism and violence against women among thirty feminist activists, academics, and experts, hosted by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, the home of the 16 Days Campaign. The participants identified five key areas of intersection between gender-based violence and militarism, which are priority areas for this year’s theme: (i) political violence against women; (ii) the proliferation of small arms and their role in domestic violence; (iii) sexual violence during and post-conflict; (iv) the role of state actors as perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence; and (v) the roles of women, peace, and human rights movements in challenging the links between militarism and violence against women. Learn more about these priority areas by reading our report. Watch this video from our campaign last year for some insight into these priorities:
While militarism is often discussed in terms of conflict situations, the 16 Days Campaign seeks to broaden our understanding of the many ways militarism influences our daily lives. Focusing on the ways in which “peace in the home” extends to “peace in the world,” the Campaign encourages values of nonviolence and self-determination.
A Focus on Human Security
At the Center, we are using the 16 Days Campaign’s focus on militarism to inaugurate a new project, “What Does ‘Security’ Mean to You?” Often when we hear about security it’s in terms of State security, such as the military, police, private armies, or other “security sector” agents. Through our project, we are looking to question this definition, and consider what human security really means to all of us.
Do armed forces, such as the use of force to solve conflict, really make us feel safer? Are there other areas in our lives that impact how we view our own security, particularly as women? Join us in reconsidering “what is security” by submitting your thoughts/opinions on our project website. Your feedback will help guide our advocacy on state spending priorities and national budgets, and work toward developing a renewed understanding of what human security means for all of us.
In our increasingly networked world, technology continues to play a critical role in perpetuating violence, as well as promoting social justice work. Many of our partners use new media as an advocacy and organizing tool to promote human rights and social change. Through the work of organizations like WITNESS, which works to empower individuals to develop their own tools for social change, narratives on violence against women—from the local community level to national and international levels—are reframed. The Center for Women’s Global Leadership joins WITNESS in raising our voices to challenge militarism and end violence against women.
Join the 16 Days of Activism Today
Since the start of the Campaign in 1991, over 3,700 organizations have participated in the 16 Days Campaign in over 164 countries. Today, organizations from Sierra Leone to Australia are organizing their own activities, including rallies, workshops, online petitions, radio programs, billboards, and more, with events pouring into our International Campaign Calendar. The Center invites activists to utilize the resources available in the Take Action Kit, which is available for download in several languages, for organizing 16 Days Campaign events.