Blog Article | 27 November 2023

Blog: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

27 November 2023

Author/s: Sue Harper, Deputy Director of Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Prevention, Hestia and Alessia Bianco, Head of Everyone’s Business, Hestia

This weekend marked the start of ‘16 Days of Activism’ – an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day.

The UN Women website describes the campaign as a moment for “individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.”

This call to action recognises the important role that organisations have – preventing domestic abuse and sexual violence cannot be achieved by individuals alone, we all have a role to play.

The link between domestic abuse and employment was also highlighted in the recent Autumn Statement, in which the Chancellor announced an additional £10 million ‘Tackling the Economic Impacts of Domestic Abuse’ (TEIDA) Fund for projects that aim to understand the impacts of domestic abuse on the labour market, support victims of domestic abuse in the workplace or prevent victims experiencing further abuse.

Last month in the UK we saw the passing of the Worker Protection Act 2023. An amendment of the Equality Act 2010, this pivotal piece of legislation creates a ‘preventative duty’, meaning there is now a requirement for employers to prevent sexual harassment from happening in their workplaces.

Importantly, it moves us from a culture of redress to one of prevention. This means clear policies, training, and proper, impartial investigations into reported harassment.

Through Hestia’s services and as proud hosts of the UK Says No More campaign, we recognise that sexual harassment is one of the most destructive issues that employees can face in the workplace.

What is more, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission will be able to take enforcement action against firms that breach this duty, and employers will also be liable to individuals as part of wider sexual harassment claims at an employment tribunal.

Through Hestia’s services and as proud hosts of the UK Says No More campaign, we recognise that sexual harassment is one of the most destructive issues that employees can face in the workplace.

No one should ever feel intimidated or harassed at work

Our Everyone’s Business team provides Independent Domestic Violence Advisors and Independent Sexual Violence Advisors for employers who are looking to deliver gold standard support for their employees who may have experienced abuse, rape or sexual assault.

No one should ever feel intimidated or harassed at work, and so we welcome this new legislation which gives more clarity about the important role of employers in preventing this crime. We look forward to working with organisations to ensure they are doing all they can to not only support employees, but to protect them.

As professionals who have worked in the domestic abuse sector for a long time, changes like this give us hope that we are moving towards a future where violence against women and girls can be prevented.

Throughout the 16 Days of Activism, we’ll be sharing examples from our work with employers, testimonies from survivors, and guest posts from other experts in the sector sharing their perspectives on the challenges we face and potential solutions.

We’ll also be reminding everyone of the role they can play in supporting survivors of domestic abuse – Everyone can Believe, Respond, Refer. Please do follow us on social media and share this important message far and wide.

Sue Harper is the Deputy Director of Hestia’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Prevention team, which proudly hosts the UK Says No More campaign. Prior to joining Hestia, she worked at Family Action for over 11 years, where she was the National Strategic Lead for DVA and Relationship Support.

Alessia Bianco heads up Hestia’s Everyone’s Business team, working with employers to support internal responses for employees enduring domestic abuse and sexual violence. To date, Alessia has worked with over 100 organisations. She has over 12 years of experience in the domestic abuse sector.


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