A vigil to signify the first day of the global campaign 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women will be held at Newcastle Art Gallery tonight.
Community members are encouraged to attend, to remember loved ones lost and to help take a stand against violence.
The 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women initiative brings communities together worldwide, helping to shine a light on gendered violence and the desperate need for its elimination.
The campaign begins each year on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and runs until December 10, International Human Rights Day.
University of Newcastle’s Gender Research Network Project Officer Rachel Bond said the Newcastle campaign would start with tonight’s vigil.
“Together, we will remember the women lost to violence in 2021 and launch another annual program of activism and advocacy as we work towards the day when all women are safe from control debilitating or slight, coercion explicit or implied, and aggressions both large and small,” Bond said.
“We will hear stories of heartbreak and hope from workers on the frontline of the war against gendered violence. We will then bear witness to a reading of the name of every single woman killed by violence in Australia so far this year.
“Together, we will focus our thoughts on those lost and send light to those left behind.”
Women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.
Young women (18-24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups.
On average, one woman a week is killed by her current or former partner.-Our Watch is a national leader in the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.
Bond said the ceremony would also include light entertainment by local performers helping to celebrate women and lament loss.
“I think it’s very important to shine a light on the fact that women continue to be killed by violence,” Bond said.
“There has been some recent change in NSW around women’s refuges and social housing, which is a step in the right direction, but we need to keep fighting because women keep dying.
“As long as there are women and children out there who are not safe, we will keep holding vigils and shining a light on the violence.”
Bond said the Newcastle Art Gallery vigil would begin at 7pm but encouraged attendees to arrive at 6.30pm. All Service NSW app check-ins and proof of vaccinations will need to be cited on arrival.
The maximum number of attendees at Newcastle Art Gallery is capped at 50, but Bond said there was a livestream of the vigil that people could access from home.
To register for the event or for the livestream link, please visit here. Or you can watch it below:
There are also other events that the Newcastle community can participate in during the 16 Days campaign, including an exhibition at Galerie Shangri-Lah titled What were you wearing?.
Launching on November 26 and open to the public from November 27 until December 9, the show features the varied clothing worn by women when assaulted, a stark reminder that no one asks to be targeted.
Additionally, there will be a free public webinar hosted by the Gender Research Network called Men as Makers of Change on December 6 at 10am via Zoom.
Bond said there had been a huge call among the community for more men-based activism.
“It’s always the majority of women who attend the activism events and vigils,” she said.
“They always end up being female-centric, so we want to bring the men to the table and encourage them to help us discuss, prevent and eliminate these issues.
“The webinar will touch on different opportunities that can be implemented to change men’s behaviour and to help encourage them to participate in grassroots activism.”
Guest speakers include Matt Brown, author of She Is Not Your Rehab, criminologist Dr Michael Salter and lawyer Joplin Higgins.
For more information on the webinar, visit the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women Newcastle Facebook page.
In honour of the 16 Days of Activism campaign and to signify its beginning, the University of Newcastle’s NUspace building, Newcastle City Hall and Civic Park will be lit up in orange.