Eliminating Violence Against Women

  Worldwide, at least one in three women are victims of violence. It is the most pervasive human rights violation on earth - present in every country, every culture, every religion, every class.

Violence against women and girls is both a global and local societal ill—global because its perpetrators and victims are in every corner of the world, and local because its forms differ from one place to the next depending on specific cultural, political and socio-economic circumstances.

Whatever the form of abuse (domestic violence, violence in conflict situations, etc.) and the analysis of its causes, the defining feature of this violence is the perpetrators’ goal of controlling women and girls. This control entails the imposition of certain gender roles on females, restrictions on women’s and girls’ physical movements and even efforts to own their bodies as property. Although the perpetrators of this violence are generally men, women may be complicit in sustaining and fortifying male dominance in all aspects of life.

In fact, a vicious circle is at work: women and girls are easy targets of violence because men assume the gate-keeper role vis-à-vis cultural and religious values, resisting new ideas that may subvert their authority and privilege. For those women and girls who reject gender-based abuse as a normal part of everyday life, there are few avenues of redress that are not littered with political and economic obstacles.

Women’s Learning Partnership addresses the ongoing challenges posed to women by violence at the family, workplace, and societal levels through our training program, which is aimed at empowering women with the ability, skills, and tools to be agents in their own lives. Our trainings are conducted with women who confront violence on a daily basis including refugee women in Zimbabwe, victims of trafficking and domestic violence in Kazakhstan and Malaysia, women affected by HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, and women living in conflict and post conflict situations in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Palestine.

WLP also supports multi-year, research intensive campaigns that advocate at the national level for the legal right at the national to be free from violence as well as implementation of these legal rights.

Annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign: Every year from November 25 to December 10, WLP partners join women's rights activists and organizations from all over the globe to organize and participate in workshops, film screenings, social media outreach, and public events during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Since its inception in 1991, this annual campaign coordinated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership at Rutgers University has drawn more than 5,000 participants from over 180 countries.

Victories Over Violence: The Practitioner’s Manual to Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls is WLP’s training manual to raise awareness in communities of the rights of women and girls to live free from violence, of the extent of violence and the short- and long-term harm done not only to victims but also to the society at large. The manual is also aimed to educate professionals and enable them to acquire a body of expert knowledge as well as a gendered perspective to apply to the tasks of preventing violence against women and addressing its impact on victims, perpetrators and society as a whole.

In WLP’s 35-minute long 2012 film, From Fear to Freedom: Ending Violence Against Women leading experts and activists from across the globe discuss the root causes of gender-based violence, share strategies to combat it, and provide inspiring accounts of the important milestones already achieved through the international women’s movement.

 In Afghanistan, a nation plagued by insecurity, girls are not free to attend school in many parts of the country and women continue to experience various forms of violence, social restrictions, and constraints to free and full participation. In Palestine, violence and rising poverty disrupt everyday life and create an environment of fear. In Egypt and Morocco, expanding fundamentalism threatens women’s rights groups. In Iran, the strengthening of religious radicalism and enforcement of extremist interpretations of Islamic Shari’a law have severely restricted women’s legal rights. In Zimbabwe, the government routinely arrests and tortures women's rights activists as part of its crackdown on the opposition.

WLP has also translated and published two innovative resources and advocacy tools from the Global South on violence against women. The first is a book on the One Million Signatures campaign in Iran that documents the advocacy strategies used in closed societies. The second, Guide to Equality in the Family in the Maghreb, is a unique advocacy tool for the reform of family law in Muslim-majority societies. The Guide presents the current state of the family law, and then proposes religious, human rights, sociological, and domestic legal arguments for reform, well-supported by relevant data.

Finally, WLP supports the participation of diverse speakers in cross-regional panels that it organizes, and in international conversations and dialogues. In November 2012, WLP issued a statement to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, calling on the UN and its member states to

  • Recognise the increasing violations to the rights of women and increasing manifestations on gender-based violence;
  • Publicly condemn any state or non-state entity perpetrating or contributing to these forms of violence;
  • Ensure that international instruments are binding, adhered to, and sanctionable in cases of violation;
  • Recognise and support the efforts of the women’s movement in denouncing and challenging the combined impact of extremism, militarism, and fundamentalism, which is resulting in the curbing of the human rights of women and girls worldwide.
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