Celebrating women's rights heroes

By Shiromi Pinto

On 25 November 1960, three women known as the Mirabal sisters were assassinated by state agents in the Dominican Republic because they dared to challenge the ruling dictator. These women’s rights heroes – women who became symbols of popular and feminist resistance – are commemorated on this day, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Today, kicks off 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, where people around the world will be challenging violence against women and girls in its many forms. This means standing up to attitudes and behaviours that value men over women – and that are expressed in many ways, from casual insults to outright violence.

These attitudes are at the root of what prevents so many women and girls from making decisions that affect their bodies and their lives – and that block women and girls from claiming their rights and participating in society equally with men and boys.

In the following 16 days, Amnesty International is celebrating women’s rights heroes everywhere who are bravely challenging or overcoming these attitudes and behaviours, despite considerable risk to themselves. Some are paying with their freedom.

We want you to tap into your own heroic powers and show solidarity with them by taking as many actions as you can to defend the right of all women and girls to live free from violence.

Will you take the challenge? Five actions. 16 days. Starting… now.

Yara Sallam needs your help. She’s in prison with 21 others. Find out why and what you can do to help.

Maria Shongwe can’t do it alone. Help make sure her community in South Africa gets the health care they need.

End the abortion ban in El Salvador. Act now and support the efforts of this daring Salvadoran collective

Europe can stop violence against women and girls. The Istanbul Convention is a new legal standard that could wipe out violence against women and girls in Europe for good. Find out how.

Stand in solidarity with survivors. It’s time for you to show your support for survivors of sexual violence in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

16 days of activism is part of My Body My Rights, Amnesty’s global campaign on sexual and reproductive rights. Find out more about 16 days.