Giving Day was packed with virtual events, including a panel discussion on how women can create a fairer future, a comedy hour hosted by Claire Hooper, and Tracey Spicer in conversation with Michelle Higelin. We also heard from young women across the Pacific on how they are leading the fight against climate change and their hopes for 2021.
As crisis after crisis unfolded in 2020, women found themselves on the frontlines and stepped up to lead their communities through COVID-19, the climate crisis and economic recession, all while facing rising levels of gender-based violence.
Women are leading the charge in 2021. ActionAid is supporting women to lead their communities to ensure they can stop the spread of COVID-19 and face the rising levels of violence caused by lockdowns and financial insecurity.
Women leaders are the backbone of their communities and this is especially true in times of crisis; and in 2013, when Sabita Rani heard that Cyclone Mahasen was heading towards her village in southern Bangladesh, she helped 500 villagers find shelter from the devasting winds.
“We adopted a different approach to men,” said Sabita.
“We didn’t want to scare people, so we called them and visited them and calmly told them that a cyclone is coming and that they needed to get to safety. We asked them if they needed help to get to the shelter. We asked them if there were pregnant women or elderly people in the house.”
Sabita was trained to become an Emergency Response Leader by ActionAid Bangladesh. In the hours before Cyclone Mahasen hit, Sabita used her mobile phone to keep in touch with 22 women from neighbouring villages. Together, they led the community evacuation.
“If another cyclone such as Mahasen strikes then we have made a resolution that we will team up like this again. It was beautiful to see the women working together.”
Funds raised from ActionAid’s Rise and Reset Giving Day can support 400 women like Sabita with training to lead their communities and keep them safe.
Stepping up to end violence against women.
Every day, 137 women around the world are killed by their partner or a family member. And that was before the dramatic spikes in violence against women that occurred as COVID-19 lockdowns closed protection services and trapped women at home with their abusers.
Now in its fourth year, the 2020 Strong Women Challenge stepped up to raise vital funds and end violence against women, for good.
In November we brought together 547 individuals and 77 teams to do 137 step ups every day for a week to raise funds and awareness for the 137 women that die every day at the hands of a partner or family member.
Together we smashed our target and raised $64,000 that can support crisis centres where women escaping violence can access legal advice, counselling and vocational training to find safety and rebuild their lives.
What’s more, every one of our challengers helped raise awareness of gender-based violence and the need to take action to end it and create a fairer future.
The Strong Women Challenge supports women like Millicent.
“When you are an individual, it is very hard to pursue these cases in courts of law. But when organisations like ActionAid come up, and stand with us, who can’t stand on our own, in most cases, we get our cases resolved and win like how I won this case.”
After surviving an acid attack that left her blind in one eye, Millicent sought justice at an ActionAid protection centre. She was given temporary accommodation, emotional support and legal aid to ensure her violent husband was put in prison.
One in four countries around the world have no laws that protect women from domestic violence. That means that women like Millicent often have nowhere to turn and no way to escape their abuser.
The Strong Women Challenge supports ActionAid to provide emergency safe spaces for women escaping violence where they can access the support they need to leave their abusers and build a new life free from violence.