Jennifer Larbie, Head of Campaigns and UK Advocacy at Christian Aid, shares why the global 16 Days Campaign is important to her, and what we can do to help vulnerable women and children.

Ethiopia 2 credit Meseret Abiy

Amarech Tariku, aged 23.

Credit: Meseret Abiy

The 16 Days Campaign is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25th November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. 

As a Christian woman it’s important to me to speak out for other women whose voices are not being heard and stand with women and girls who have survived violence so they know they are not alone.

This campaign is personal because I’m the product of being loved and cherished by my parents and invested in with good public services that allowed me to reach my full potential. This is what I work and campaign for every woman around the world to have.

 The Bible makes many promises to women: it tells us we are loved, we aren’t alone and we are free. And yet one in three women, globally, experience violence at least once in their lives. Sixteen Days of Activism challenges us to consider how we can live out our faith to advocate for change and support survivors of violence.

In the recent King’s Speech, the UK Government also made promises – to increase tougher sentences for offenders and increase victims’ confidence.

Former Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has said investment in this arena is working, but warned “the gains made need to be defended and extended.”

And yet, despite acknowledging this, the government is still planning to slash the international aid budget.

Women all round the world are affected by violence and - for those who survive - the consequences can be devastating. Violence takes many forms and happens in all kinds of situations – domestic abuse; childhood marriage; war zones.

Sixteen Days of Activism is the perfect moment to challenge ministerial pledges

Christian Aid through its partners, programmes and campaigns is doing significant work around gender-based violence, from securing justice for women and raising awareness, to providing safe spaces for women and girls.

Sixteen Days of Activism is the perfect moment to challenge ministerial pledges and with the theme of prevention through investment we’re calling on international leaders to live up to their moral responsibilities.

Climate change, covid-19 and ongoing conflict have exacerbated the threats to women, generating new risks and amplifying vulnerability. We need to ensure international aid budgets can adequately continue vital work supporting survivors, strengthening justice systems, providing safe spaces, and empowering women and girls to play an equal part in their communities.

In Afghanistan, women and girls have all but disappeared from society.

I’ve spoken to colleagues in countries like Afghanistan and South Sudan where our local partners are working with vulnerable communities, and it’s clear scaling up investment will save lives.

In Afghanistan, women and girls have all but disappeared from society.

On top of this, the ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis means girls marry early to reduce family expenditures. With women economically dependent on men, and many men having lost their jobs, there has been a hike in domestic violence.

But my colleagues say women are determined to win back their rights; empowering organisations, led by Afghan women, means they can work on long term development initiatives, such as the creation of sustainable livelihood opportunities and safe environments.

In South Sudan, women and girls face similar issues. The country has not recovered from the impacts of climate change and covid – and since the start of this year, the humanitarian crisis has deepened. People displaced by conflict are seeking sanctuary in South Sudan; as they reach the border they’re met with the shocking reality of transit camps with few facilities, food or shelter. Vulnerable women and children are now stuck there, in danger of exploitation as weapons of war.

There are also the same cultural issues of child marriage. A lack of education and opportunities for girls mean many accept this as the norm, making it tough to address violence as an urgent and credible issue.

The best way to mark this year’s Sixteen Days of Activism is to reverse the budget cuts and scale up investment to better protect women and girls.

And what can we do to take part? Many churches and organisations are holding vigils and in some places there will be marches to remember the women lost to violence. Christian Aid is launching a social media campaign with messages from senior leaders, information about the issue and a prayer, written specially for this year’s 16 days.


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