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.
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.
Victories over Violence: Ensuring Safety for Women and Girls is a practitioners' manual, comprised of 16 sessions which unfold in a progression—moving from violence at home or in the private sphere, to the community or public space, to the transnational and international arenas. Case studies in each session are drawn from actual events and feature stories set in societies as diverse as Haiti, Malaysia, Nepal, and the United States. This enables the facilitator and participants to explore the linkages between violence in these three realms—the private, public and global—while underscoring the point that gender-based human rights violations are ubiquitous and defy cultural, economic, ethnic, political, religious and other divisions.
Authors: Mahnaz Afkhami, Haleh Vaziri
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Around the globe, women are joining forces and speaking out, advocating for new laws, and developing successful strategies to eradicate gender-based violence. The challenges are many. But the mission is clear: bring an end to the culture of violence and forge a new path to a culture of peace and human rights for all.
In WLP’s new film, 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.
Film runs 35 minutes
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Each year activists, youth, local and international organizations, and governmental officials committed to eliminating violence against women participate in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. This annual campaign commences on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and lasts through December 10, International Human Rights Day.
As part of WLP’s 2012 campaign activities, we held the online premieres of our Arabic, French, and Spanish subtitled-editions of the documentary, From Fear to Freedom: Ending Violence Against Women. In WLP’s film, released in 2012, 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.
The theme of the United Nations' 2013 Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is violence against women. The purpose of this statement, written in collaboration with WLP Lebanon/Collective for Research and Training on Development–Action, is to highlight increased threats to women’s security and ability to realize their full human rights, resulting from the rise of regressive and extremist groups that have been newly empowered in the wake of political transitions in the Arab region and beyond.
Women’s Learning Partnership calls on the United Nations and its member states to:
• Recognise the increasing violations to the rights of women and increasing manifestations of 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.
WLP Co-Convenes Women Peacemakers at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice
During the three day conference, which brought together 150 delegates from 48 countries, discussions, working groups, and workshops served to enhance and advance the knowledge and recommendations of international gender experts from across disciplines on issues addressing women, peace and security.
WLP served as the lead convener for the final day of the conference devoted to peacebuilding, in addition to contributing to other sessions and skills building workshops focused on security, justice, and women’s political participation.
In August, the Women’s Affairs Technical Committee (WATC), WLP’s partner in Palestine, organized a three-day press conference to speak out against honor killings. Since January alone, 11 women have been killed in the name of honor. During the press conference, the group urged President Mahmud Abbas to issue a Presidential decree and reform the penal code to value the lives of women and men equally.
Shortly following the press conference, President Mahmud Abbas established a committee to investigate reform of the Personal Status Law. The committee is comprised of the Presidential Legal Advisor, the General Attorney, and a representative of the Ministry of Justice. WATC is currently working to ensure that civil society organizations, including women's rights groups, are included in these discussions on reforming the penal code.
Alerts & Updates
March 15, 2013
Arab Caucus, csw 57, Human Rights, Middle East, Stop Violence Against Women, violence against women, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine
**WLP joins partner organizations and others in the MENA region, and those from outside the region standing in solidarity for women’s full human rights, including the right to be free from violence, in the MENA region. The statement below was originally posted on here on the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies website.**