Kate Menear is a feminist activist with Reclaim the Night Liverpool, a group campaigning on women’s rights issues like sexual violence, cat-calling, street harassment and victim blaming. After yesterday’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, marking the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, she told us why she’s been getting involved with the campaign.
Why I'm supporting ActionAid's Fearless campaign
I am taking part in ActionAid UK’s Fearless campaign because I want to end violence against women globally. Full. Stop.
As an ardent feminist, what I love about the Fearless campaign is how it unites women of all backgrounds, all ages and ethnicities, and all walks of life – under the strength of that oh-so-brilliant word, 'fearless'. Because alone we are mighty, but together we’re stronger.
After learning more about the Fearless campaign, I jumped at the chance to stand with the people of Liverpool for the 16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women. From the 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to the 10 December (Human Rights Day), activists all over the world are coming together to galvanise action on ending violence.
Standing with women like Miriam
Shockingly, one in three women will face violence in their lifetimes. But many women are working hard to stop this. Women like Miriam Munthali, from Malawi, who helps women in her country escape gender-based violence after experiencing domestic violence herself when she was just 14 years old.
“It was a violent marriage", she told ActionAid. "He was beating me. He was beating me with a belt, pushing me against a door frame, a wall, he knocked out my teeth.”
Now, Miriam volunteers with the ActionAid-supported Rumphi District Women's Forum, supporting women who experience domestic abuse or forced marriage:
“We had a case last year where we fought and we brought the girl back," Miriam said. "She got married at an early age but we negotiated with the police and brought her home. I saw what happened to me, that’s why it pains me and why I wanted that girl to come home.”
"Orange the world"
During the 16 days, activists all over the world are standing with fearless women like Miriam. This year, the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign is asking people to “Orange the world,” using the colour designated by the UNiTE campaign to symbolise a brighter future without violence. So here in Liverpool, the Cunard Building and St George’s Hall both lit up orange to mark the launch. And yesterday morning, 104 white flowers were dropped into the canal at Pier Head to represent the number of women in the UK murdered by a partner every year.
What we're doing
As part of the Fearless campaign, ActionAid campaigners are also marking the 16 days by joining campaigners, MPs and the Lord Mayor on Saturday at the statue of fiery campaigner Bessie Braddock, to adorn her with a red Fearless sash. Braddock was a city councillor and MP who dedicated her life to helping others - especially women and children. She campaigned on maternity and child welfare, represented the city as a Councillor in the 1930s, and even drove ambulances through air raids to help her city in the Second World War.
By adorning her with this sash we are acknowledging the importance of women campaigners standing against violence all over the world, from Bessie Braddock in Liverpool to Miriam Munthali in Malawi, and raising awareness about this vital issue.
Want to see what else is going on as part of the 16 Days of Activism on Violence Against Women? Then you can follow the campaign on Twitter.
Photos: Arjen van de Merwe/ActionAid