“Concern Worldwide would like to congratulate Women’s Aid for your annual campaign to raise awareness of the reality of domestic violence and to push for positive change to make women safer in their own homes.
Violence against women is all pervasive yet very much under recognized as a human rights violation. In our work internationally, it is a problem of extreme magnitude. We see that the nature and extend of violence can vary across cultures and countries. Forms of violence include female genital mutilation, honour killings, acid throwing and dowry killings to name but a few. Some forms of violence such as domestic violence and rape are endemic across cultures and social strata but violence also has close links with poverty.
For millions of women and girls living in poverty experiencing violence is their reality as they struggle to survive, there are often forced into transactional sex in order to pay for food or school fees, This increases their vulnerability to HIV and other health related problems.
A study conducted by Concern in Malawi found a significant level of violence against girls in school. Violence against young girls attending school is an enormous issue in developing countries. It is not surprising that parents keep their children at home, depriving them of an education because of the fear of violence, that may take place in school or on the way to and from school.
WHO estimates that globally 150 million girls have been raped and suffered other forms of sexual violence. We know that conflict exacerbates the situation further with rape a significant feature of conflicts.
Concern’s experience informs us that we cannot address poverty without addressing the underlying causes of gender inequality, which is undoubtedly at the root cause of violence against women. Concern is working with women’s self help groups, which may have an initial focus on economic empowerment leading women to increasing access to resources and decision making in their household whilst also positively impacting on the self esteem and status . The approach requires that the men of the household are engaged with the project. Engaging men is considered an essential ingredient to bringing about lasting change.
It is essential that a commitment to ending violence against women exists at all levels from government to institutions at community and family level. Women and girls need to be empowered to stand up and report violence but a supportive and enabling environment where men are actively engaged and support real change must also exist for action to be taken and change to take place.
The 16 Days of Action is an opportunity to create awareness and renew our commitment to ending violence against women and girls. Many of Concern’s country teams are carrying out activities and events over the 16 Days. All our equality champions in our 28 countries of operation will receive the 16 facts for 16 days. Our website will feature the campaign and provide updates from our country programmes; briefing sessions will be held with our staff to create awareness and learn from experiences in other countries.
We are delighted to join with you in this campaign to end violence against women.”