The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

16 days of activism at Manchester University Students’ Union

Why the Students’ Union is currently covered in orange posters and banners

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From the 25th of November to the 10th of December, the University of Manchester Students’ Union will take part in sixteen days of activism against gender-based violence.

The international United Nations campaign takes place annually and aims to raise awareness about violence against women and girls by ‘oranging’  campuses across the globe and raising money for relevant charities.

This year’s theme is ‘Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls’.

The campaign at Manchester Students’ Union is headed by women’s officer Sara Heddi, who told The Mancunion: “I thought it was so important to run this campaign because with issues such as sexual harassment being so prominent in the media, I think it is really important to raise awareness about other forms of violence that people may not be aware of.

“For example, we are running days where we focus on violence towards people with hidden disabilities such as mental illnesses. Campaigns like this are so important in making people aware of the different forms that violence can take.”

The campaign encourages supporters to cover their campuses in orange banners and posters to raise awareness. The colour is used by all participants of the global campaign, including Manchester Students’ Union, to symbolise a brighter future, free from violence against girls and women.

The idea originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

This year, the Students’ Union have selected Manchester Rape Crisis as their chosen charity. Based on Nelson street, Manchester Rape Crisis is a confidential service run by women and girls who have suffered rape and sexual abuse.

It offers support, counselling, and group work to women experiencing these difficulties. It can also offer signposting support to male victims and advice for friends and family of victims.

Sara Heddi said: “the work that they do is absolutely fantastic, I am so inspired by them. They’re a small organisation, but the amount of work they do is incredible. This is a great way to support a home grown charity.”

The focus of the Students’ Union campaign will be different on each of the 16 days. Students get involved by going into the Students’ Union, picking up a flyer and speaking to campaigners.

Students can also follow the hashtags #16DAYSATUOM and #orangetheworld and share photos, ideas and videos via Twitter and Facebook.

The 16 days of activism will take place on nine working days. Here is the itinerary for the campaign:

Day 1: Orange the campus: raising awareness of the campaign by making the campus orange. Volunteers will be handing out ‘why is my campus orange’ leaflets; Day 2: Domestic Violence: volunteers will be handing out stickers to raise awareness of victims; Day 3: Sexual Violence: covering the Students’ Union building in paper dolls to raise awareness of how serious sexual violence affects women; Day 4: Honour Based Violence: covering the campus in ‘Why Cant I Speak’ posters which pull up to reveal the impact of victim silencing; Day 5: Violence towards women of colour: covering the Students’ Union building in different shades of brown paper dolls with a large board explaining violence towards women of colour in education, media, and employment; Day 6: Violence towards LGBQ+: case studies around campus about the subgegation of LGBQ+ people around the world; Day 7: 1st of December: Community Fair charities in the Students’ Union as a signposting day, including Manchester Rape Crisis, The Pankhursts Centre, Independent Choices, and more to be confirmed; Day 8:  Violence against Trans People: handing out pronoun stickers to raise awareness of trans visibility; Day 9: Balloon Release: release a balloon in exchange for a donation. On the bottom of each balloon there will be a card with a list of services in Manchester, the idea being when the balloon lands someone somewhere will find the card and it’ll help raise awareness of services if anyone out there should need them.