Residents and organisations across East Lothian will be asked what part they can play to end Violence Against Women and Girls as part of a worldwide campaign that starts this month.

16 days of Activism is vital in reinforcing the messages that we can all take action to raise awareness and to end violence in all its forms

The annual 16 Days of Activism campaign will launch on 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and run until 10 December, International Human Rights Day.  

The themes for 2022 are LightUp and What Next? and asks that we all look to see what positive steps we can take to eradicate violence against women and girls in all its forms.

16 Days of Activism is an international movement backed by the United Nations and organisations around the world with a call for the Prevention and Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). 16 Days provides an opportunity to come together to increase awareness of VAWG, promote a zero tolerance approach, and the rights of women and girls. The campaign aims to share knowledge and creative ways to achieve equality and respect for everyone, regardless of their gender.

In 2020-21, Police Scotland recorded 65,251 incidents of domestic abuse and figures from UN Women show that 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner with disabled women twice as likely to experience violence compared to non-disabled women. In total, Scottish Government figures show that violence against women and girls costs Scotland £4billion.

What Next?

East Lothian and Midlothian’s Public Protection Committee is leading on 16 days of Activism locally working with its partners East Lothian Council, Midlothian Council, East and Midlothian Health and Social Care Partnerships, Police Scotland, Women’s Aid, Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, VCEL and Queen Margaret University. The Committee has organised an online launch event on Friday 25 November 1pm-3.30pm to focus on 'What Next? How we can engage men and boys to challenge negative stereotypes and create meaningful change'.

Cabinet member for Community Wellbeing Councillor Colin McGinn said: “It is appalling that in our modern and enlightened times, violence against women and girls remains a reality for so many. It’s not a remote issue, it’s not something that happens elsewhere, to other people that you don’t know. It’s happening right here, in our East Lothian communities, right now.

“16 days of Activism is vital in reinforcing the messages that we can all take action to raise awareness and to end violence in all its forms.

“I would encourage everyone to find out more about 16 days of activism and make their own personal pledges to take whatever action they can to make East Lothian equally safe for everyone.”

'Ask for Angela'

Across the campaign period partners are undertaking their own activities to raise awareness. This includes training sessions for staff organised by the East and Midlothian Public Protection Office, talks within local high schools, and Police Scotland visiting pubs and restaurants to promote their ‘Ask for Angela’ campaign which aims to give women and girls a safe way to alert bar and restaurant staff if they are in a risky situation.

East Lothian Council Chief Executive Monica Patterson said: “I am proud that East Lothian Council and our partners are taking part in the international 16 Days of Activism campaign. Nobody should live in fear of violence or any other form of abuse.

“We all have a part to play in challenging attitudes that accept or try to normalise abusive behaviours, and to be part of the cultural change that is needed. 16 days… has a number of simple ways that people can show their support for the campaign – from displaying something orange in solidarity, discussing the issue with colleagues and family members, improving your understanding of what abuse looks like and how you can support someone who is experiencing it.

“To those who are experiencing violent or abusive behaviours: please remember that it is never your fault and there are people for you to speak to in confidence for help and support. I hope that 16 days will be a movement for change and have a positive impact in our East Lothian communities.”

Get involved

There are a number of ways that you can get involved in 16 Days (and beyond) and help contribute to ending violence against women and girls:

Published: Tuesday, 22nd November 2022