International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women
Image via Daiga Ellaby
Chances are high that you, or someone you know, is a victim of violence against women. As women, violence has become a part of our lives—whether that’s living in the fear or it, currently experiencing it, or living with the trauma of it.
Due to its frequency, violence against women has become normalized. But violence is not normal. Violence is a crime and it’s about time that it is treated as such.
Violence against women is an endemic in our world today. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 1 in 4 women in the United States have experienced violence from a partner, 2 out of 3 children are exposed to violence, and 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college.
Every year on November 25, the United Nations dedicates a day to raise awareness of this issue. The day known as the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women has been in place since 1981 and looks at the prevention of these horrifying numbers and reality women face on a daily basis.
However, violence against women isn’t something that can just be fixed with awareness.
Due to the complexity of this issue, there needs to be a concrete plan set in place and that UN has done just that.
On their page, the UN details a four-step process to ending violence against women: Resist, Empower, Rise, and Transform.
In honor of the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I wanted to take a look at and celebrate organizations and people who are doing their part to make a difference in each of these steps.
Self-defense courses and practices all around the world are helping women to physically resist violence against them. One such organization that places an emphasis on self-defense techniques is Peace Over Violence. Peace Over Violence is a non-profit located in the United States that focuses on using self-defense to help end violence against women.
The organization has been around for more than forty years and is dedicated to facing the problem of domestic violence head-on.
In addition to self-defense courses, Peace Over Violence also provides services for prevention, education, and also runs a Trauma Recovery Center.
The Global Fund for Women is working to help empower women and girls around the world.
On their website, they state that their mission is, ”to ensure women can own property, vote, run for office, get paid fair wages, and live free from violence.”
The Global Fund for Women supports bills created by the UN to end gender discrimination including The Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
In terms of gender-based violence specifically, the Global Fund for Women helps fund efforts throughout the world to help end gender-based violence.
In the past, they have helped give out more than $22 million to different groups around the entire world who are working to end violence against women. Their current focus is on Syrian refugees and the region of Central Africa where sexual violence is an epidemic.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) is the U.S.’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
Their work is particularly important in helping individuals who are victims/survivors of sexual violence. The organization helps survivors, leads educational programs, and brings perpetrators to justice.
For survivors, they help provide resources and information about how to recover from sexual violence. These efforts help rise up victims and survivors of violence. By doing this, they are lifting all of us up.
All of these efforts lead to transformation, and Futures Without Violence is an organization that is leading that transformation. As this organization focuses on eliminating violence against women, they also help train professionals to help lead as well.
Futures trains doctors, judges, nurses, athletic staff, etc to respond to violence and trauma in a healthy manner. They also work with policymakers to create programs within communities to promote and educate about healthy relationships.
In fact, one of their main focuses is working to transform governmental practices and create laws to help end gender-based violence.
On their website it states, “As part of our overall strategy for social change, we advocate for policies and legislation that prevent violence, support healthy children and families and help victims survive, heal and thrive.”
What You Can Do
These organizations are making changes and we can join them by offering them support. However, it can go even beyond that. Each and every one of us has the power to make everyday changes to help eliminate violence against women. Here are some everyday things that you can do today to help eliminate violence against women:
- Once again, you can support organizations like the ones listed above by donating your time or money to their causes.
- Believe survivors. It’s not easy for survivors to come forward thanks to their fear of not being believed and feelings of worthlessness. All of these have been brought on because of a society that doesn’t believe victims. So the most powerful thing that you can do is believe them, without question. Don’t make them question their self-worth.
- Call your local legislators and political leaders to urge them to support legislation that supports survivors and the end of sexual violence. 5 Calls is a great resource that makes calling your representatives easy and anxiety-free.
- Respect EVERYONE’s right to say no.
- Speak up to those who are perpetrating literal violence or violent speech.
- Share some of the resources listed above. Share them on social media, place little cards in public places for people to find. You never know who may need these resources.
- Know the facts of violence against women and sexual violence and share them.
- Learn about bystander intervention and what you can do if you see an assault occurring.
- Educate children (and adults) about the importance of respect and consent.
- Remember those who are marginalized. Women of color, transwomen, lesbians, and indigenous women are populations that are often silenced when it comes to violence against women. Don’t let their voices be silenced. Learn how to be inclusive in your activism and make sure that all populations are supported and heard.
- Engage men in conversations about violence and consent. It may (well, it will be uncomfortable), but these uncomfortable conversations are necessary in ending toxic belief systems.
Today is the perfect day to start doing some (if not all) of the list above. Be conscious about your actions and your words every single day. Every bit helps to curb and end violence against women. We can make this endemic disappear together.
More resource of domestic violence here.