‘16 Days of Activism’: Senior project focuses on fighting violence against women

A Columbus East student has started a social media campaign as her senior project to raise awareness linked to the United Nations 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence and is encouraging donations locally to Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.

Columbus East student Celia Schutte chose the issue for her senior project, which also includes a donation drive for items for domestic violence victims.

One in three women and one in four men in the United States have experienced physical violence from their partners, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. On a state level, the coalition reports that “42.5% of Indiana women and 27.9% of Indiana men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.”

To donate as part of this senior project, individuals may take hygiene items to a drop box at Savory Swine through Dec. 10, or to a live donation event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Walmart on 2025 Merchant Mile. Residents can also make financial donations directly to Turning Point.

The senior project has included asking local business owners to display posters advertising the drive. She has also worked with city officials to get a signed proclamation regarding the 16 days of activism and having the Stewart Bridge on Second Street with orange lights at the end of November.

The color marks this year’s theme for the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence: “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”

According to United Nations Women, the annual global campaign began on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and continues until Dec. 10, which is Human Rights Day. It is a means by which individuals and organizations around the world “call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.”

The campaign was created by activists at the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and is coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.

At a local level, Celia has participated in Turning Point’s Annual Dance Marathon in the past, so when it came time for her senior project, she wanted to do a donation drive for the organization.

Her mother, Avril Schutte, mentioned the UN’s 16 days of activism and has helped with project management. However, she said that, by and large, the project has been all Celia.

Avril Schutte is director of corporate responsibility at Cummins, Inc. She also leads Cummins Powers Women, which she described as the company’s “commitment to the acceleration of gender equality globally.”

“Around the world, we have people who are super engaged in the project,” Schutte said. “…Many of them will also be celebrating or observing the 16 days of activism. There’s different webinars that are being run globally.”

Webinars are being run by Cummins employees, who bring in experts about violence against women to help educate the company’s employees on the subject.

Celia hopes that her project also educates people.

“I hope to just achieve more awareness in Columbus about this, and more awareness that Turning Point … helps with these kinds of things,” she said.

“They work at the prevention side, which obviously is hard to measure,” she said. “And then they work on the, kind of the healing side, which, obviously, you can count women. But you’d rather not count them. You’d rather spend your money on awareness and on prevention. But until that’s all done, you have to spend money on shelters as well.”