Year
1999
Month Day
November 25

First International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

The United Nations General Assembly passes a resolution designating November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The resolution, which was introduced by the Dominican Republic, marked the anniversary of the death of three sisters, Maria, Teresa and Minerva Mirabel, who were murdered there in 1960. While women in Latin America and the Caribbean had honored the day since 1981, all UN countries did not formally recognize it until 1999.

Many organizations, including the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), had been pushing for international recognition of the date for some time.

A year earlier, Noeleen Heyzer, the director of UNIFEM, gave a speech at a fundraising breakfast in Toronto, Canada, encouraging men and women to participate in 16 days of activism against gender violence. The voluntary effort was to begin on November 25 and last through December 10, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was passed in 1948 as a response to the genocidal terror of the Nazi regime. This 16-day period had particular significance for Heyzer’s Canadian audience, for one of Canada’s most horrific tragedies occurred on December 6, 1989, when Marc Lepine went on a shooting spree at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal. Lepine had entered the college with a shotgun and murdered 14 female engineering students before turning the gun on himself in what later became known as the “Montreal Massacre.” In his suicide note, Lepine declared his murdering spree to be an attack against feminism.

Women’s organizations worldwide have successfully pulled together for increased awareness and support of their cause. Although this is a sign of positive change in the struggle to end violence against women, statistics show that there is still much work left to do. A report released in 1994 by the World Bank, entitled "Violence Against Women: The Hidden Health Burden," estimated that one out of every four women worldwide has been, or will be, raped. The report also said that violence against women is as serious a cause of death and incapacity among women of reproductive age as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than traffic accidents and malaria combined.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Japanese author Yukio Mishima dies by suicide

World-renowned Japanese writer Yukio Mishima dies by suicide after failing to win public support for his often extreme political beliefs. Born in 1925, Mishima was obsessed with what he saw as the spiritual barrenness of modern life. He preferred prewar Japan, with its austere ...read more

People around the world mourn the death of the thirty-fifth president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

JFK buried at Arlington National Cemetery

Three days after his assassination in Dallas, Texas, John F. Kennedy is laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, was shot to death while riding in an open-car motorcade with his wife and ...read more

Iran-Contra connection revealed

Three weeks after a Lebanese magazine reported that the United States had been secretly selling arms to Iran, Attorney General Edwin Meese reveals that proceeds from the arms sales were illegally diverted to the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua. On November 3, the Lebanese ...read more

Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge sinks to the bottom of Lake Washington

After a howling wind- and rainstorm on Thanksgiving Day, Washington state’s historic floating Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge breaks apart and sinks to the bottom of Lake Washington, between Seattle and its suburbs to the east. Because the bridge’s disintegration happened ...read more

"The Mousetrap" opens in London

“The Mousetrap,” a murder-mystery written by the novelist and playwright Agatha Christie, opens at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. The crowd-pleasing whodunit would go on to become the longest continuously running play in history. When “The Mousetrap” premiered in 1952, ...read more

U.S. Army retaliates for the Little Bighorn massacre

U.S. troops under the leadership of General Ranald Mackenzie destroy the village of Cheyenne living with Chief Dull Knife on the headwaters of the Powder River. The attack was in retaliation against some of the Native Americans who had participated in the massacre of Custer and ...read more

"Storm of the century" hits eastern U.S.

The so-called “storm of the century” hits the eastern part of the United States, killing hundreds and causing millions of dollars in damages, on November 25, 1950. Also known as the “Appalachian Storm,” it dumped record amounts of snow in parts of the Appalachian Mountains. ...read more

Last British soldiers leave New York

On November 25, 1783, nearly three months after the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the American Revolution, the last British soldiers withdraw from New York City, the last British military position in the United States. After the last Redcoat departed New York, U.S. General ...read more