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Violence Against Women: How You Can Stop It

November 28, 2012|By Helena Minchew and Jacob Tobia
In Haiti, a 17-year-old girl reports being attacked and raped by six men in a temporary camp after the 2010 earthquake displaced her from her home.

In Nepal, a woman is told to go “put on her silk sari,” by her mother-in-law so that she may be scorched in “punishment” for giving birth to girls and not boys. Silk, the mother-in-law says, will burn faster.

These are just two among countless shocking stories of violence against women (VAW) perpetrated globally every day. VAW takes many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological and economic violence.  It crosses cultures, communities and countries—devastating lives, fracturing families and communities, obstructing economic opportunity, preventing generations from reaching their full potential, and stalling national development.  The United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign to End Violence Against Women (UNiTE) estimates that up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetimes.  World Bank data indicate that women ages 15-44 are more at risk of rape and domestic violence than they are of cancer, car accidents, war and malaria combined.

In light of these horrifying accounts and figures, the United Nations has been working diligently to combat VAW. Through initiatives such as the Say No Campaign and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, the UN is channeling millions of dollars to local anti-VAW organizations and bringing global awareness to the prevention of VAW. Furthermore, the UN has been instrumental in facilitating international consensus against VAW, and, through international documents such as the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, has enshrined protection from VAW as a fundamental human right. Through the UN Human Rights Council and UN Women, the UN is helping to shine a global spotlight on VAW by compiling data about VAW and gaining and deeper understanding of its causes.

November 25 marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women –a day where the world takes notice of the overwhelming violence targeted specifically at women around the world.  It also kicked off the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, which encourages women and men around the world to take strategic and organized action against VAW.

Because VAW takes place every day around the world, we’re asking you to spend two weeks getting educated, active, and loud about preventing it. Joining with gender equality organizations around the world, we’re launching our 16 Days of Activism Toolkit, a toolkit designed to help you educate and engage yourself, your friends, your family, and your community in advocating against VAW. Our toolkit features a combination of must-reads, personal challenges, important documents, and outreach opportunities all designed to help you mobilize your local community. By accepting the 16 days of activism challenge and using our toolkit, you can be part of a global movement against VAW.

Will you join us?

Helena Minchew is an intern with the United Nations Foundation Women & Population team; Jacob Tobia is a Human Rights Intern with the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force at the United Nations Association of the USA. UNA-USA is a program of the UN Foundation.
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