The new campaign invites individuals to “Orange Your Neighborhood” (check out the hashtag #orangeurhood for some great photos), to symbolize hope for a brighter future, free from violence against women and girls. What we know today is that one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in her life, and slightly more than one in ten girls have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. These statistics give us pause, as we consider the sheer number of women affected by violence.
Almost 20 years ago, UN member states adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, taking up the global call to end all forms of violence against women and girls by highlighting violence against women as one of 12 critical areas of concern. Since then, progress has been made as countries pass laws to better protect women and awareness campaigns have helped educate the public. Nevertheless, given the horrific statistics cited above, much remains to be done.
The “Orange Your Neighborhood” campaign is an opportunity for youth to get engaged in an issue that affects us all, no matter what gender or nationality. As Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon notes, “The pervasiveness of this violence should shock us all. Violence against women and girls is happening where you live — and possibly even to someone you know.” Violence against women is, unfortunately, a universal issue. No country or region is spared, giving this campaign global significance. The 16 day campaign is an opportunity to once again bring this critical issue to the forefront.