The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, runs 25 November - 10 December. genderED - the University of Edinburgh’s hub for gender and sexuality studies - in collaboration with Australian Human Rights Institute at the University of New South Wales and Ambedkhar University in Delhi - is running the annual 16 Days Blogathon to raise awareness of the campaign. Now in its fourth year, the Blogathon brings together voices from civil society, academia, art, activism, and government around the world as its contribution to the ongoing struggle.

In this article, Emma Gieben-Gamal and Dr Deborah Jackson, Co-Directors of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at ECA, highlight some of the writing in the 16 Days blog and reflect on the campaign and its pertinence to Edinburgh College of Art.

Gender-based violence, including domestic violence, is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms and cultural practices. As co-directors of Edinburgh College of Art’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) we value the critical work being undertaken by this global campaign to end violence against women. EDI at Edinburgh College of Art means promoting an inclusive, fair, respectful and welcoming culture in which all staff and students can flourish.

The promotion of gender equality is critical to our achievement of the Athena SWAN Bronze Award and continuing work to maintain and improve this standard of work-place equality. Gender equality also underpins gender-based violence prevention and ECA staff, undergraduate and postgraduate students have responded to this opportunity to raise awareness of those who have experienced gender-related violence and harassment with their vital contributions.

These include discussions by Megan Archibald and Zelda Solomon that both deal with the digital realm as it relates to forms of brutality to women and girls. Megan explores her own experiences of how decisions about women’s bodies are regulated in society and how this is played out in the public sphere of the internet, that demonstrate attitudes towards women that legitimized violence towards them and also places responsibility and blame on the victim. Zelda - a History of Art student and member of ECA's Board for decolonising the curriculum - presents an intersectional understanding of violence against women in the digital age. She denounces the common perception that technology is objective by demonstrating how algorithms replicate historical and societal biases that propagate injustices, prejudice and violence towards women and specifically women of colour.

"I know colleagues across ECA are proud and delighted, as am I, that we are collaborating with genderED on the 16 Days Blogathon this year. This is an important opportunity for us to reflect on where we are and where we would like to be with regards to gender equality and to foreground the work of staff and students who are showing leadership in this area. "

Professor Juan Cruz, ECA Principal

Anisha Palat focuses on an photography project by the artist Sujatro Ghosh who documented Indian women wearing a full-head cow mask to reveal the duplicity of India’s government and society who prioritise the protection of cows over the safeguarding and health of women.

Qri Kim shares a series of narratives of individuals from the LGBT community in South Korea that she garnered for her project that highlight the brutal consequences they describe facing. Their stories reflect on gender related hostilities in response to, for instance, their status as testing positive for Covid-19; identifying as a transgender woman; originating from South Korea; having a Christian upbringing.

Finally, Alicia Bruce presents a dialogue with Fatou Baldeh MBE, a survivor and campaigner to end Female Genital Mutilation, that she photographed in 2017 as part of the Scottish public awareness campaign Zero Tolerance. Here Alicia revisits the photograph with Fatou and the ongoing fight to end FGM.

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