Partners across East Lothian and Midlothian have joined forces to tackle gender-based violence as part of a worldwide campaign.
16 days of Activism runs from 25 November, which is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until Human Rights Day on 10 December. Throughout the 16 days, individuals and organisations around the world unite to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. The theme for 2021 is ‘What Will You Do?’ and people are being asked to consider what they can do to play their part in this vital activity by making a pledge of their action. Gender-based violence is not just physical and can also include financial or coercive control.
In Midlothian and East Lothian, activities are being led by East and Midlothian Public Protection Committee (EMPPC) which brings together East and Midlothian Councils, NHS Lothian, Police Scotland, Edinburgh Rape Crisis and East Lothian and Midlothian Women’s Aid.
East Lothian Council’s Leader, Councillor Norman Hampshire, said: “Sadly we know that too many people in our area are affected by gender-based violence and that the pandemic has increased this risk. We all have a part to play in reducing this risk.
“By taking part in 16 days of activism we and our partners are signalling that we want to shine a light on this important issue and take action to end it. It’s vital that we all take time to understand what we can do to stop women and girls in our area living in fear from violence, and make sure that when they do come forward they are supported.”
As part of 2021 campaign, people are encouraged to take a pledge of action they can take to end gender-based violence. Examples could include:
- I pledge to increase my understanding of the issues around gender-based violence
- I pledge to discuss what else we can do to improve gender equality and tackle violence against women and girls in my organisation or community group
- I pledge to talk with my children to support them to have healthy and respectful relationships
- I pledge to raise money for local support services for survivors of domestic abuse, rape, sexual assault or honour based violence.
Midlothian Council’s deputy leader Councillor Jim Muirhead said: “As a council we wholeheartedly support this nationwide campaign. Violence against women is a significant problem in our society which must be tackled and unfortunately the problem has only worsened throughout the COVID pandemic.
“We’re tackling it in our own back yard by becoming one of only four Scottish councils to be awarded the Equally Safe at Work bronze accreditation. This means we stand for gender equality at work and preventing violence against women. Now we’re redoubling our efforts and going for silver.
“Our ambition is to address women’s inequality and violence against women and girls not only within the council but across Midlothian as a whole. We’re already putting our understanding of gender and violence issues at the heart of our work with children and families, justice and housing, and other service areas will follow.
“This year’s 16 days campaign encourages us all to take a look at ourselves as individuals, organisations, businesses and communities and ask What Will You do? Me? I’m pledging to make sure we have zero tolerance of violence against women and girls in our organisation and this is reflected in our values. What Will You Do?”
As part of the 16 days, Police Scotland will be undertaking outreach sessions at events in East Lothian – including Haddington Farmers Market – to raise awareness of the issues and it’s ‘That Guy campaign which aims to aims to tackle the issue of sexual violence by having frank conversations with men around sexual entitlement. Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre is also undertaking work with secondary schools in East and Midlothian around issues of consent and respectful relationships and to create a toolkit for sharing across the regions.