Today Members of Parliament — in what the UN are calling a world-first — are wearing the colour orange to support the global campaign 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

In New Zealand, the 16 Days campaign is hosted by UN Women Aotearoa. It aims to raise awareness and prompt action, using the colour orange to represent a brighter future, free from violence against women and girls. This will be the 30th year of the annual campaign.

“Orange-themed events are facilitating discussions and increasing awareness of gender-based violence. It’s fantastic to see our MPs wear orange and get involved in this important campaign, using their platforms to raise awareness of this insidious violence, bringing it to the surface for us to grapple with as a nation,“ said Tara Singh, President of UN Women Aotearoa NZ.

MPs supporting the campaign include Jan Logie, Jan Tinetti, Brooke van Velden, and Nicola Grigg.

Gender-based violence is one of New Zealand’s most persistent violations of human rights. It’s a sobering reality that women and girls continue to experience violence in their homes, workplaces, and in public.

Women make up a majority of the victims of violent crime in New Zealand, with 1 in 3 women experiencing physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partners during their lifetime. We’re also following the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns during which rates of violence have surged — during NZ’s recent lockdown we saw eight family violence homicides in seven weeks.

The 16 Days began on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and will end on 10 December, Human Rights Day. There’s been a raft of support — from the Houses of Parliament to several regional monuments lighting up the colour orange. Businesses across the nation have been hosting ‘orange morning teas’ and UN Women have hosted a webinar focused on gendered violence.

Building awareness is even more important as we approach Christmas and New Year — a time when family violence typically peaks. UN Women Aotearoa NZ urge MPs who are wearing orange today to follow their act of solidarity with concrete action. New Zealand needs more leaders working to bring about inclusive, comprehensive and long-term strategies, programmes and resources to prevent and eliminate gender-based violence.