As we mark International Women’s Day 2017, there remains much work to do on delivering transformative change towards gender equality - women and girls still have fewer opportunities, rights and freedoms than men and boys. Most importantly, gender equality will not be achieved without the involvement of men and boys to eliminate daily violence against women.
Violence against women is rooted in unequal power relationships between men and women in society and is a global problem.
Violence against women includes, but is not limited to:
- Gender-based violence
- Rape, marital rape and incest
- Murder and assault, dowry-related violence and honour killings
- Forced marriage
- Female genital mutilation
- Human trafficking,cross-border prostitution rings and bride kidnappings
- War crimes including rape as a weapon of war
Here are just some facts around violence against women:
- Prosecutions for violent crimes against women and girls in England and Wales were at an all-time high last year.
- Research has shown that seven out of the ten countries with the highest femicide rates are in the Latin America region.
- In India, as many as 2.24 million crimes against women were reported over the past decade: 26 crimes against women are reported every hour, or one complaint every two minutes, reveals an IndiaSpend analysis based on the last decade’s data.
- In 2014, One in three women across the EU report having experienced some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15.
- Over 40 per cent of women in South East Asia and 60 per cent of women in the Western Pacific have experienced gender-based violence.
- South Africa is infamous for horrendous gender-based crimes especially of a sexual nature, despite having some of the most progressive legislation in Africa.
- In the Middle East, 37% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner at some point in their lives, and 125 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to Female Genital Mutilation.
All these figures are compounded by the lack of reporting due to social stigma and barriers.
Through the power of our Cooperation Circles, our interfaith unity, and our determination we can take a stand and ensure lasting behavioural changes to eliminate daily violence against women.
Here are just some ways we can make changes:
Change mindsets and cultural norms within our families and communities. By highlighting the fact that harmful masculinities are bad for men and boys, as well as women and girls in the home. In a familiar environment we must challenge attitudes that tolerate violence against women and we must encourage mutual respect. The family is a place where men and women can take responsibility for creating new ways of living and being by valuing each other as equals.
Influence our local education systems around the unacceptability of Violence as a means of controlling women. Schools can also engage males at an early age through male role models who encourage healthy expressions of masculinity and relationships. These include understanding consent and sexual harassment in schools and beyond. We must encourage local leaders to change antiquated social norms.
Coordinate with likeminded organizations in pursuit of a shared vision. We must work towards a society where perpetrators are held accountable, and victims receive the compassion, support, and justice they deserve. Working directly with perpetrators to affect permanent behaviour change and leading the way in the sector through collaborations with third sector partners, the police and health services, to protect victims of abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.
Continue to exchange best practices to strengthen our efforts towards maximising transformative change to make communities safer, create long lasting community-owned solutions and changes to attitudes and behaviours, for good.
Our, evidence-based, interlinked efforts will serve to build a society with greater equity for women, and greater rewards for the whole community.
Let us mark International Women’s Day 2017 through combining our divine feminine and masculine energies towards eliminating daily violence against women.