The month of November typically brings to mind one specific day: Thanksgiving. And while that holiday is typically reserved as a day for thankfulness, there is another day in November that we should all be thankful for: November 25 — the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Created by the United Nations (UN) in 1999, the purpose of this day is to raise awareness about violence against women in the hopes that it will soon be eradicated from society.

Even though the day wasn’t officially recognized until 1999, women activists have been labeling November 25 as an anti-violence day ever since 1981. In fact, the date has significance in terms of activism. On November 25, 1960, three sisters known as the Mirabal sisters were assassinated in the Dominican Republic on the command of the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. The sisters were political activists who made it their life’s mission to fight for democracy in their country. Because of their commitment to making life better for others, women activists and the UN picked November 25 as a way to honor the sisters for their dedication to human rights.

To help promote the international day and foster the cause, the UN Secretary-General started the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign in 2008. The campaign, which is focused on creating “a world free from violence against all women and girls,” aims to accomplish this goal through a series of measures. These include: creating safe public spaces, passing and implementing effective laws and policies, increasing knowledge and awareness, focusing on prevention, and motivating people and governments to take action.

In fact, you can take action right now by participating in the UN’s Orange Day; every 25th of the month, there is a special theme that relates to taking action against some aspect of violence and/or promoting awareness. By wearing orange and participating in the special themes, you are not only playing your part in this important cause, but you are also encouraging others to help put a stop to this heinous crime.

Violence against women is a deplorable act that can take shape in many forms; some of its broadest forms include physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, and financial abuse. However, even though the type of abuse can differ, all violence against women – no matter how small it seems – is a human rights violation that strips women of their self-confidence and makes them doubt their self-worth. What’s even more horrific is that this is a global pandemic; the UN estimates that “up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetime.” 70%. To put this into perspective, we live in a world where violence against women is so prominent that a routine exam at the doctor’s office involves the nurse asking, “Do you feel safe at home?”

This is not acceptable. We should not have to live in a world where we have to ask women if they feel safe. A woman’s safety should be a guaranteed right to life, not an uncertainty or a possibility.

But, thankfully, we also live in a world that’s choosing to stand up for the victims of violence. With the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence that follow, we – as a society – are taking the right steps toward ending this violent crime.

If you would like more information or would like to get involved in this cause, below are some helpful resources:

The UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

UNiTE to End Violence Against Women Campaign

UNiTE’s official Facebook page

UNiTE’s official Twitter page

UN Women: Ending Violence against Women

If you are in need of help, please know that you are not alone and that this is not your fault. There is help out there, and, more importantly, there is hope. Below are some important resources:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

The United States Department of Justice: Local resources listed by state

The Family Violence Prevention & Services Resource Centers

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