The #TimeIsNow for Solidarity and Sisterhood

Tuesday, 02 October 2018

New York | DPI

Since October 2017, more than 1 million women worldwide have shared experiences and solidarity with their sisters under the banner of #MeToo. They are saying that enough is enough. For too long, women have experienced violence in their homes, in public spaces and at work.

For too long, this abuse has been normalized, women’s voices have been silenced and their stories disbelieved.

For too long, perpetrators have not faced consequences.

It is estimated that there are 1 billion women worldwide living with the pain caused by gender-based violence. These women do not always go to the authorities to file formal reports, but the data that the World Health Organization helped UN-Women gather from dentists, surgeons, mental health specialists, emergency rooms and morgues illustrates how violence against women is a global health crisis.

We cannot allow this to continue for another generation.

We are at a tipping point, a moment we must grab with both hands: the #TimeIsNow. To amplify this message of solidarity and strength, Hollywood stars with many millions of social media followers around the world are partnering in their #TimesUp movement with women and girls from rural areas, students, civil society activists and others whose voices have been long ignored.

In Africa, activists and survivors are speaking out against female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage. They are led by such women as Jaha Dukureh, the UN-Women Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa on FGM and Ending Child Marriage.

In Latin America, women have taken to the streets to protest the murder of human rights activist Marielle Franco and to stand up against femicide through the “Ni una menos”, “not one less”, campaign.

In Sweden, an open letter from hundreds of actors sharing their testimonies and demanding zero tolerance of harassment led to thousands of women across all industries echoing those appeals.

This moment has taught us two vital lessons. First and foremost, it has shown the strength of solidarity and sisterhood. The sheer volume of women adding their voices to the conversation, saying “I hear you, I understand you, I believe you”, has enabled them to find courage.

Providing women with a chance to unburden painful experiences, and ultimately find relief, serves as collective therapy that is free and open to all. Women everywhere can say “me too” to someone else, whether that means “it happened to me” or simply “I believe you.”

Secondly, it has created critical momentum for accountability and tackling impunity. Until now, this has been elusive, with powerful people able to commit serial offenses without consequences.

We need to see the #MeToo movement as a case study proving that all are equal before the law. The campaign must be scaled up even further, ensuring that those responsible for making laws and holding elected positions in countries across the globe have a way of fighting impunity that works.

At UN-Women, we are using our global footprint to support this amplification of the #MeToo movement so that no one is left behind.