25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. / EP

25 November 1960: Sisters’ murders spark global calls for an end to violence against women

On 25 November the global community comes together to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women


For the past twenty-two years 25 November has marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

This year the day forms part of the United Nations UNITE campaign which aims to raise awareness about gender-based violence and find ways to prevent this perpetual issue.

The origins of this day take place forty years prior to its official inauguration. On 25 November 1960 three female political activists Patria, Minerva and María Teresa Mirabal, who fought against Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic were murdered.

In 1981 activists at the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentros, a series of conferences, decided that on 25 November these activists would be remembered.

On 7 February 2000 the UN General Assembly officially recognised this day of remembrance and reflection. The UN emphasises the fact that as well as social, economic and cultural barriers, many women are still the victims of violence, usually at the hands of an intimate partner.

Statistics show that globally nearly one in three women have experienced violence (WHO, 2021) and studies highlight the negative impact of Covid-19 particularly in relation to lockdowns and the unavoidable exposure to abusive partners.

In Spain, the day is commemorated by marches and vigils in its cities, towns and villages. Local leaders, organisations and central government come up with ways to promote the elimination of violence against women and girls.

Women’s rights and gender based issues are pervasive in Spain’s current affairs. The ‘Sí es Sí’ (Only yes means yes) law focuses on consent when judging cases of sexual abuse and assault. Although the law has caused controversy many have argued it will mean no woman will have to face the arduous process of proving violence or abuse. Figures published by the INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística) show that in Spain there was a 3.2% increase in victims of gender based violence in 2021. In Malaga there are around 3,500 active cases of gender based violence.

There is certainly a lot to do especially after the turbulence of the pandemic, however Spain is working towards making a more equal society for women.