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Ending Gender-Based Violence: Global Efforts

Stop Violence Against Women 2

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and the 16 days between November 25th and and December 10th are designated by Rutger’s University Center for Women’s Global Leadership as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. These events put the problem of gender-based violence in the international spotlight and provide an opportunity to discuss the issue and how it is being addressed globally.

Violence against women and girls is a problem that reaches across national boundaries. It affects women of all ages, races, ethnicities, and religions.  Because gender-based violence is often a result of deeper, ingrained  societal discrimination, it is difficult to address and more difficult to eliminate. No matter what form the violence takes, it is harmful not just to individuals but to communities and societies at large. It is a human rights issue with wide-reaching implications that garners attention from the highest levels of international governance but will require fundamental change at the individual and community levels to stop.

Statistics

Here are some jarring global statistics about gender-based violence:

  • Up to 70 percent of women encounter some form of violence during their lifetime. (UN)
  • 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. The abuser is usually a member of the woman’s family. (WHO)
  • Of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked across national borders annually, women and girls make up 80%.  A majority of these women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation. (WHO)
  • The number of women alive today who have undergone female genital mutilation is an estimated 100 and 140 million. (WHO)
  • In some parts of the world it is more likely that a girl will be raped than learn how to read. (WHO)
  • Women aged 15-44 are statistically more likely to be harmed by rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria. (UN)

What can be done?

The UN campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women outlines 16 steps that they believe are necessary to work towards ending violence against women.  These include adopting and enforcing laws, engaging the mass media, mobilizing men and boys, ending impunity towards conflict-related sexual violence, making justice available to women and girls, along with several more.  International and regional treaties are also an effective tool in mobilizing large-scale action to eliminate violence against women. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, defines discrimination against women as “…any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.” This widely-arching convention is a powerful tool for gender equality that calls upon UN member states to enact laws and create institutions to eliminate discrimination.

The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) has been proposed as a piece of legislation in the United States, supported by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other advocacy groups, that would address violence against women through United States foreign policy, implementing a set of best practices for preventing the violence and prosecuting perpetrators of such acts.  The act was introduced in 2011 to the United States Congress, but was not passed into law.  Critics, such as Wendy McElroy from The Independent Institute,  claim that the act would unfairly ignore male victims of gendered and sexual violence.  Some international agreements, such as the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, address this concern, pointing out that the principles and framework of such rulings can be applied to “men, children and the elderly who are exposed to violence within the family or domestic unit.” It will remain to be seen whether formal legislation such as I-VAWA will be passed in the United States, but advocacy organizations hope that awareness events such as International Violence Against Women Day and the 16 Days Campaign will spur the creation of new legal measures and activism throughout the world to address this problem.

Check out the resources below to learn more or get involved!

Web Resources

International Violence Against Women Survey

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2014

Unite to End Violence Against Women

No1Nowhere Campaign

Women Thrive Worldwide

Violence Against Women FactSheet – UN

Books from the UIUC Libraries

Nakray, Keerty. (Eds.) (2013). Gender-based violence and public health: international perspectives on budgets and policiesAbingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Nichols, Andrea J. (2014). Feminist advocacy: gendered organizations in community-based responses to domestic violenceLanham : Lexington Books.

Renzetti, Claire M., Edleson, Jeffrey L.Bergen, Raquel Kennedy. (2010). Sourcebook on Violence Against Women. Thousand Oaks : SAGE Publications.

Rose, Susan D.. (2014). Challenging global gender violence :the Global Clothesline Project. New York : Palgrave Pivot.

Stewart, Mary White. (2014). Ordinary violence: everyday assaults against women worldwideSanta Barbara, California : Praeger, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC Online Journals and Databases)

Casey, E. A., Carlson, J., Fraguela-Rios, C., Kimball, E., Neugut, T. B., Tolman, R. M., & Edleson, J. L. (2013). Context, Challenges, and Tensions in Global Efforts to Engage Men in the Prevention of Violence against Women: An Ecological Analysis. Men & Masculinities, 16(2), 228-251.

Devries, K. M., Mak, J. T., García-Moreno, C., Petzold, M., Child, J. C., Falder, G., & … Watts, C. H. (2013). The Global Prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women. Science, 340(6140), 1527-1528.

Mason, C. L. (2013). Global Violence Against Women as National Security “Emergency”. Feminist Formations, 25(2), 55-80.

McFarlane, J., Nava, A., Gilroy, H., Paulson, R., & Maddoux, J. (2012). Testing Two Global Models to Prevent Violence against Women and Children: Methods and Baseline Data Analysis of a Seven-Year Prospective Study. Issues In Mental Health Nursing, 33(12), 871-881.

Šimonović, D. (2014). Global and Regional Standards on Violence Against Women: The Evolution and Synergy of the CEDAW and Istanbul Conventions. Human Rights Quarterly, 36(3), 590-606.

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Global Challenges for Gender Equality

UN Commission on the Status of Women

This week, the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) coincides with International Women’s Day (which took place on March 8th), as well as Women’s History Month in the U.S.  These events present a great opportunity to discuss and examine the challenges faced by women and girls in today’s world.  Let’s focus on three key target areas for gender equality (UN Women, 2013).

Freedom from violence against women and girls

The World Health Organization reported in 2013 that 35% of women worldwide have experienced some type of violence  in their lifetime. This violence can have serious and long-lasting effects on women’s mental, reproductive, and sexual health (WHO, 2013). This issue is addressed in the UN Millennium Development Goals, and will undoubtedly be addressed by the post-2015 development goals.  UN Women works to encourage legal reform, create safe spaces for women, provide health services for victims of violence, increase awareness of the problem, and prevent violence by addressing the root causes. This cause has also been taken up by many private organizations, such as End Violence Against Women International and Springtide Resources. These organizations focus on education initiatives, prevention programs, as well as conducting research to guide efforts at reform.

Gender Equality in the Distribution of Capabilities

This area involves women’s access to education, healthcare, and opportunities such as land or work with equal pay.  The Millennium Development Goals Report of 2013 indicates that progress is being made in all of these areas, but this progress varies by region and demographic.  For instance, the report reveals that women tend to hold less secure jobs than men in developing regions.  The statistics for education reveal that in Northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, the gender disparity in education still remains high (UN, 2013).  The World Economic Forum’s World Gender Gap Report also shows that the “Gender Gap” varies greatly depending on region and tends to be higher in developing areas(World Economic Forum, 2013).

Gender equality in decision-making power

This issue is about women holding positions of influence in public forums and government, but also in their own homes and families.  The number of women that hold parliamentary seats has increased in almost every world region since 2000, mostly due to the creation of legislative or voluntary quotas that require a certain number of female members. However, women’s decision-making power at home remains significantly lower than men’s in many regions of the world (UN, 2013).  These types of decisions range from money-related decisions, to women’s ability to visit friends and family, to decisions about women’s own health.  Family dynamics are greatly influenced by societal and institutional norms, and the hope of many organizations is that by increasing women’s access to education and work opportunities, these norms will begin to change in a direction that is less discriminatory towards women.

Why is gender equality so important?

In a recent report, the UK-based Department for International Development explains that economic stability and growth for developing countries is greatly boosted by improved gender equality.  It makes sense – if women and girls can gain access to improved education, they will eventually get better jobs and be able to better contribute to the economy. The same study shows that including women in political decision-making leads to more effective governance, since women’s presence in government brings greater diversity and different experience to the process (DFID, 2013). This makes the problem all the more pressing and important.  Gender equality is not only a significant concern from a human rights standpoint, but it will allow for the economic and political growth that developing nations need to make them competitive in world markets.

But on a more basic level, gender equality is about advancing human rights for all citizens of the world.

Check out the resources below to learn more about this subject:

Organizations

He for She

UN Women

Women Thrive Wordwide

International Labour Organization Bureau for Gender Equality (GENDER)

End Violence Against Women International

Springtide Resources

Women for Women International

 

Informative Websites and Web Articles

Timeline of International Agreements and Standards to End Violence against Women

Five Human Rights Issues for U.S. NonProfits on International Women’s Day – Non-Profit Quarterly

International Women’s Day: Mainstream Messaging For The Radical Cause Of Full Economic Empowerment – Forbes

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Corinne L. Mason. “Global Violence Against Women as a National Security “Emergency”.” Feminist Formations 25.2 (2013): 55-80. Project MUSE. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

Hendra, J., FitzGerald, I., & Seymour, D. (2013). TOWARDS A NEW TRANSFORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: THE ROLE OF MEN AND BOYS IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY. Journal Of International Affairs67(1), 105-122.

Munin, N. (2013). NGOs, Multinational Enterprises and Gender Equality in Labor Markets: A Political Economy of Conflicting Interests?. Journal Of Multidisciplinary Research (1947-2900)5(1), 5-26.

Chant, SylviaSweetman, Caroline.  (2012). Fixing women or fixing the world? ‘Smarteconomics’, efficiency approaches, and gender equality in development. Gender & Development. 20(3), 517-52.

 

Latest Books at the UIUC Libraries

Joffe, Lisa Fishbayn.Neil, Sylvia. (Eds.) (2013). Gender, religion, & family law: theorizing conflicts between women’s rights and cultural traditionsWaltham, Mass. : Brandeis University Press.

Karamessini, Maria.Rubery, Jill. (Eds.) (2014). Women and austerity: the economic crisis and the future for gender equalityMilton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Ringrose, Jessica. (2013). Postfeminist education?: girls and the sexual politics of schoolingLondon : Routledge.

Rose, Susan D.. (2014). Challenging global gender violence: the Global Clothesline ProjectNew York : Palgrave Pivot.

Runyan, Anne Sisson,Peterson, V. Spike. (2014). Global gender issues in the new millenniumBoulder, CO : Westview Press.

Yarwood, Lisa. (Eds.) (2013). Women and transitional justice: the experience of women as participantsAbingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

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