The 25th of each month is designated by the United Nations Secretary- General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign as “Orange Day” an official date on the UN calendar to draw attention to violence against women and girls around the world. Orange Day calls on UN programs and partners, government leaders and the global community to highlight issues relevant to preventing and ending violence.
Each month carries a different theme and July’s action theme is “Orange our Future: Engaging youth to prevent and end violence against women and girls.” The UNiTE campaign recognizes young people as “critical stakeholders” in the effort.
The campaign has asked young people to tell the world why they believe in a future free of violence against women and girls through social media. Interns Willa Van Camp, Madeline Bacchus, Amelie Clemot, Sarah Hoyle and Teo Ufford-Chase with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations were quick to come up with their own and wasted little time promoting it in a new video posted online.
“One of the things we want to show with the video is that violence against women and girls is an issue facing the entire world,” said Van Camp, a junior at the University of Puget Sound. The three believe more needs to be done to engage young people to realize, recognize and respond to violence.
“We need to redefine our perceptions of gendered violence to acknowledge more than the physical or sexual. Gender violence can also include micro aggressions in the workplace or emotional extortion in the home,” said Clemot, a Wesleyan University sophomore. “Society has to recognize its role in propagating violence in order to make sustainable change.”
Van Camp believes conversations around gender based and domestic violence need to take place long before young people reach their teen years.
“If they end up experiencing or witnessing violence, they might not recognize it as an issue,” she said. “If a little boy pulls a little girl’s hair, adults will often play it down by saying ‘he likes you.’ When we respond that way, we’re teaching our girls that this violence is okay. That needs to change.”
All three believe the church needs to step up and engage young people in discussions about violence. Bacchus, a sophomore from Tufts University, notes the positive results such discussions have had within her home church youth group.
“These discussions further strengthen the support system the faith community has always offered,” said Bacchus. “The church should cover what the education system often leaves out.”
The interns hope the video will be the incentive churches need to take a greater step in addressing gender violence.
Sarah Hoyle, a senior at Wake Forest University, and Teo Ufford-Chase, a junior at Eckerd College, were unavailable for the interview.