Anyone who’s been watching the news lately is finding it impossible to ignore a very painful, destructive reality: one in three women worldwide face gender-based violence at some point in their lives.
Based on what CARE has seen over almost 75 years working with women and girls in the world’s most vulnerable communities, we know that in some contexts – especially humanitarian crises – that staggering number is even higher.
In emergency contexts where social networks are lost or strained, women and girls too often become targets of violence and abuse – like sexual violence as a weapon of war, exploitation and harassment as refugees, domestic violence and abuse, and child marriage in the upheaval of displacement. And when it comes to the assistance that impacts them, they are frequently kept out of the decision-making process.
But we also know that’s not the end of the story. While women and girls disproportionately face violence, they also are often the key to their families’ survival. We’ve seen over and over that in emergencies, women embody strength, perseverance, and resilience. Faced with the horrors of war or the devastation of natural disaster, women hold families and communities together, carrying children to safety and keeping them fed, and rebuilding shattered lives as refugees in a new land if they are unable to return home.
Women are also their own best advocates. Women and girls everywhere are fighting for safety, opportunity, and a say in their futures. This year, in preparation for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, CARE Action (CARE’s advocacy arm) is standing with the women and girls who are championing their own rights and keeping their communities together in the face of terrible atrocities, and calling special attention to gender-based violence in emergencies.
From November 25th (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10th (Human Rights Day), CARE Action will be taking part in this global campaign that brings together people across hundreds of organizations and nearly every country in the world, all with one mission – to eradicate all forms of gender-based violence everywhere. We’re working together, stepping up advocacy efforts and promoting policies to eradicate pervasive and rampant violence against women including domestic violence, rape and other forms of sexual assault, trafficking, psychological abuse, honor killings, child and forced marriage and pervasive gender-based harassment.
The statistics surrounding GBV are staggering and we’ll be highlighting them throughout the 16 Days:
- At least one in three women and one in five men worldwide will experience GBV
- As many as 35 percent of women have experienced intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lives
- At least one in three women will be beaten, raped or otherwise abused and in most cases, the abuser is part of her family
- 15 million girls will be married before the age of 18 every year
CARE will also be amplifying stories of the grit and resilience of women like Gambo and Hadja, who fled extreme violence in Northern Nigeria and took refuge in Niger with nothing but the clothes on their backs. With a few blankets, some netting and basic supplies, they’re making a life for themselves and their children. Or women like Stépha Rouichi, Advocacy Manager for CARE DRC who wrote about the under-staffed health centers in the DRC’s Kasai province, where a recent survey indicates that more than 1,400 survivors of sexual violence – mostly between the ages of 12 and 17 years old – have accessed services in the past year.
Finally, we’ll be urging action through the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. This legislation would strengthen U.S. leadership and empower women and girls in the fight against gender-based violence. There’s so much we all can do to help stop the injustice. Supporting IVAWA is one of them.
To join us in our campaign and lend your voice…
- Follow CARE Action on Facebook and Twitter
- Check out careaction.org
- If you’re in the US, sign our petition and share using the hashtag #16Days…
- …and tag your Members of Congress on Facebook and Twitter and urge them to support and pass IVAWA
The scourge of gender-based violence is global problem that we all can and must help to solve. 16 Days of Activism is an opportunity to educate yourself, educate your communities, and take meaningful action. Join us!