Are mass shootings and domestic violence linked?

By Yakin Ertürk

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (2003-2009)

The gun culture in the United States has direct links with domestic violence (DV) and is part of a troubling global trend involving women as key targets. According to studies, in 2003, 50% of female homicide victims in the US were shot and killed with a gun and women in the US are 11 times more likely than in other high-income countries to be murdered through the use of a firearm. Everytown for Gun Safety, a study that used FBI data and media to analyze mass shootings in the US from January 2009 to December 2016, showed that 54% of the perpetrators of horrific mass killings had targeted family members.


According to a 2017 study by the United Nations Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA), femicide victims, in 40 and 70 percent of the cases worldwide, are killed by a partner or a family member. In countries where small arms are easily available, when a gun is present in a DV situation, the likelihood that a woman will be shot and killed increases fivefold.  Given this link, Everytown study notes that in the US a series of federal and state laws have been put in place to help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, but the issue is far from being addressed.


On November 5, 2017, Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire at a church outside San Antonio, Texas, killing and wounding many people. According to Air Force authorities Kelley— who joined the military in 2009 — was court-martialed in 2012 on two charges of assault. He was convicted of fracturing his baby stepson’s skull and assaulting his first wife. He was confined for a year, given a bad conduct discharge and reduced in rank. As with previous mass killings, experienced in the US, the incident fueled the long standing controversy over gun ownership; proponents of the Second Amendment resisting and the pro-regulation proponents advocating for measures to limit access to guns. The US President, asked whether background check system needed improvement, responded that this was not gun issue but a mental health issue, therefore, it wouldn’t have made any difference!


While this controversy lingers, the Texas shooting highlights yet another aspect of the problem. Reportedly, the military had failed to enter Kelley’s DV incident into a database that would have made it illegal for him to buy a gun. This provoked a debate on whether mass shootings and DV are linked and if the atrocity could have been prevented if the gunman’s history of DV had been properly followed up.



Posing the problem as one of causality may miss the point. The linkage argument does not necessarily presuppose causality but rather implies intersectionality. The question then is: where, when and how do the two phenomena intersect? In view of our current understandings of violence, several points of intersection immediately come to mind: (i) violence is a strategy to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation in the private and public domains; (ii) violence is not an isolated phenomenon, there is a cycle and continuum of violence; and (iii) small arms are often present in incidents of violent assaults, including femicides. Exploring into areas of intersectionality can provide more nuanced answers concerning the linkage between the two forms of violence and reveal further areas of inquiry as well as new entry points for timely interventions geared toward prevention.


Had the authorities complied with the legal obligation to enter Kelley’s DV incident into a database that would have made it illegal for him to buy a gun, perhaps the Texas atrocity could have been prevented? Although we will never know for sure, such questions need to be taken seriously. Dismissing the issue as inconclusive simply evades the obligation to diligently respond to a deadly crisis.



A Brighter Future Begins in a Classroom

Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, a global campaign by individuals and groups calling for an end to all forms of violence against women. This year’s theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”. For the next 16 days, Peace is Loud will be sharing reports, quotes from our speakers, and other resources around this theme. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and join the conversation!

 At Peace is Loud, we recognize peace to be more than just an absence of war, but a societal transformation towards inclusion and a celebration of diversity. Similarly, building peace requires a measurable shift in how we treat the people we share a home, classroom, workplace, community, country and world with. A holistic issue requires a holistic response.

In many parts of the world, access to safe, quality education is not a right but a privilege, and requires several factors to converge: Parents or guardians must first decide that their child should be and stay in school, and not be married off at a young age; school facilities and materials must be accessible and affordable; teachers, staff and school officials must be dedicated to a violence-and-harassment-free environment; and school policies must communicate and enforce policies towards that end. All too often, one or more of these factors fail to fall into place. The damage in a child’s life, and to the world as a whole, is monumental.

For the more than 14 million girls in conflict-affected countries who are out of school, the 28 girls married before the age of 18 every minute, the 120 million girls worldwide who have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime, the 1 in 5 women and 1 in 13 men who were sexually abused as children, and the LGBTQ youth who feel unsafe in their school because of bullying, awareness-raising and calls to action should be scaled up not just during these 16 Days, but every day moving forward. From a young age, children need to be taught that they deserve lives free from violence, that they deserve quality education, that consent is their right, and that their voices deserve to be heard.

We are fortunate to work with incredible women who have been dedicated to ending violence and promoting safe education for many years.  From Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who set up secret schools for girls in Afghanistan during Taliban rule, to Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda’s tireless call for an end to child marriage and Leymah Gbowee’s support for girls’ education In Liberia, we are inspired every day by the work of our speakers and their colleagues.

If you’re wondering how to make an impact at an individual, local level, particularly around ending child marriage, Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, Peace is Loud speaker and African Union Goodwill Ambassador for the Campaign to End Child Marriage has a message for you:


To learn more about Peace is Loud or bring a women peacebuilder public speaker to your classroom or event, please visit our website.

Zika looms on the Rio Olympics, but sheds light on an even larger issue – women’s rights

By Alexandra DeMatos

Summer 2016 – Communications Intern

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Tomorrow the 2016 Summer Olympics will begin in Rio, Brazil. The country will be the host to countless visitors and the world’s best athletes – if they choose to attend. Many have decided to opt out of this summer’s Olympics due to the looming threat of the Zika virus throughout South America, which is extremely prevalent in Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, home of the Olympics, is the area that is the most plagued with the virus.

In late April, Brazil released a report that analyzed the statistics of the Zika virus all throughout Brazil, with Rio housing the worst concentration of Zika cases in the country – more than 1 in 4 of the 90,000 reported cases in the first quarter of the year. With 157 per 100,000 people in Rio being infected with the virus, Rio has three times the national average. The threat for outsiders and athletes is easily avoidable, but for the poor residents of Rio leaving is not necessarily an option. For women, the threat is even greater.

The Zika virus is most often spread in one of three ways: the bite of an infected mosquito, sex with an infected man or childbirth. While infections in adults often show no symptoms, if a woman is infected while pregnant, there can be severe consequences. Children born from a mother that is infected with the Zika virus may have a serious birth defect known as “microcephaly,” which results in the baby having a smaller head and brain than expected due to improper development, along with seizures, developmental delay, intellectual disability, hearing loss, vision problems and so on. As the link between the two became more obvious the government of Brazil shared its words of wisdom: don’t get pregnant.

To many, this piece of advice is incomprehensible. Brazil has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, is extremely lacking in sexual education and lacks contraceptive access, particularly for the poor. Abortion is allowed only in cases of rape, a threat to the mother’s life or in cases of anencephaly (when the fetus is missing parts of the brain). This issue of microcephaly has become so profound that even Pope Francis was swayed into saying that contraceptives would be the “lesser evil” in the fight against Zika.

The women who live in “favelas,” referred to as “impoverished or overcrowded areas” by the World Health Organization (WHO), are at the greatest risk of having a baby born with microcephaly. One in 5 of the residents in Rio live in favelas, which lack basic sanitation, which Marcelo Firpo of Brazil’s National School of Public Health says is the number one factor behind the spread of the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which spreads Zika (as well as chikungunya and dengue fever). Unlike favelas, which are often riddled with garbage dumps and raw sewage, the well-off cities and neighborhoods in Brazil have an exponentially lower number of cases of Zika, and little to no cases of microcephaly. Highlighting severe economic disparity in the country and a difference, which can also be contributed to the better health care available to those of better means.

As long as Zika thrives in Brazil, poor women will be disproportionally affected and many women will continue to desperately search out methods of avoiding pregnancy. As the concern over the wellbeing of the athletes and visitors rises, we cannot forget the residents, women in particular, that are being left behind.



“Accountability won’t happen unless we demand it.”

This week, CWGL joins hundreds of other civil society organizations monitoring the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) for Sustainable Development in New York. Consisting of a Ministerial Declaration, thematic sessions and 22 voluntary country reviews, the forum is the official platform for follow-up and review of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

As we fight for gender equality and the full realization of human rights we must remember: The development agenda is, at its core, about human rights. Poverty. Inequality. Conflict. Climate change. We need a holistic approach grounded in policy: Fiscal policy, tax policy, labor policy are all critical, with the power to further entrench discrimination, or to tackle inequality. At the national level –both in the United States and abroad–we must ensure they fulfill rights for all.

To move the HLPF beyond rhetoric to strong accountability, it will require space for civil society, support for social movements and active inclusion of those often left behind, with member states capable and willing to engage in a human rights based approach to the 2030 Agenda.

By Rachael Wyant

Program Coordinator – Economic and Social Rights

“Brexit” Threatens the Rights of Women and Minorities

By Alexandra DeMatos

Communications Intern – Summer 2016

People from around the world watched as the United Kingdom experienced its most momentous week in decades. After a nerve-wracking referendum vote, Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU) by a very slim margin – 51.9 percent by 48.1 percent. London residents voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. This vote meant much more to the people of Britain than a typical election because voting to leave the European Union is something that no country has ever done. To add more fuel to the fire, not only did Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron resign and international markets took a harsh blow, but also both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union, which many fear will lead to an even more historic event – the fall of Great Britain. These are the concerns that are currently dominating international media, leaving many other extremely important issues, such as the rights of women, minorities and refugees, swept under the rug.

The European Union began after World War II in order to increase security between its members states both economically and politically. The EU consists of 28 members with many more eager to join and it holds a great amount of influence over Europe. Many rights for women and minorities, which were brought to Britain through the EU, were not up for debate during the referendum period.

Feminist Caroline Criado-Perez compiled a list of rights given to women in England through the joining of the EU, “EU referendum: For any woman who values workplace equality, there’s only one way to vote,” including: equal pay for work of equal value, paid maternity leave, making it illegal to dismiss women due to pregnancy and ending the practice of “treating part-time workers as less valuable than full-time workers.” These were all rights that were NOT enforced in England until the intervention of the EU. The worry is now that by leaving the EU, there is no saying what will happen to these advancements and rights of women.

Here’s an example; in 1970 the United Kingdom passed the Equal Pay Act, which was supposed to be a leap towards ending wage discrimination. The issue however, was that it only guaranteed equal pay for women who were doing the exact same work as a man. The intervention of the European Commission in 1982 forced the United Kingdom to comply with Article 119 of The Treaty of Romeequal pay for work of equal value. Criado-Perez compared male street cleaners and women who clean offices as an example of equal pay for equal work. Now the fate of this important policy is unknown.

As for the rights of minorities and refugees, the EU, under the Common European Asylum System (CEAS), says that refugees are guaranteed protection: “Under CEAS, international protection is granted to those migrants who qualify as refugees due to a well-founded fear of persecution. Subsidiary protection status is granted to those who would face a real risk of suffering serious harm if returned to his/her country of origin.” According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, just about half of the 4.8 million Syrian refugees are women – 25.6 percent of whom are extremely young, ranging from infants to 17 years old and 24.2 percent are aged 18 to over 60. Since 1993 a majority of migrants to the United Kingdom have been women, most of which were attempting to escape terrible, often violent conditions from their home country, and considered the United Kingdom a safe space.

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Tweet posted to @PostRefRacism.

Perhaps it may seem unlikely that there would be a backwards shift in the realm of women’s rights or the rights of minorities or refugees, but if the #Leave campaign, which was heavily fueled by a hatred and fear of immigrants and minorities, was able to win the vote then perhaps a backwards shift does not seem so unlikely after all. Since the referendum vote on Thursday, June 23 there has been more than 100 incidents of hate crimes or racial abuses. There has been an outpour on social media of instances of harassment, a great deal of which are being reported by Muslim women. One tweet, by @heavencrawley, reads:Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 1.58.14 PM

Women in Great Britain are unsure of what is to come in the years following the referendum vote. Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, wrote, “Britain is leaving the EU and I would like to know what that means for women. For the cost of my childcare, for the likelihood of closing the pay gap and for the chances of this country ever ratifying the pan-European Istanbul Convention to end violence against women and girls.”

Her thoughts sum up the worries and questions of many.

Why do you want a #She4SG?

All of the past 8 United Nations Secretary Generals have been men. It’s time for a Madam Secretary. In a short 30 second video tell us why you want a woman Secretary General?

Send your video to to be posted to the You Tube Channel and shared on social media.


Addressing the Gender Pay Gap & Inequalities

By Rachael Wyant


There’s been a lot of attention to the gender-pay gap recently in mainstream media. From Jennifer Lawrence and Robin Wright demanding more transparency and equality in high paying entertainment roles, to the U.S. Women’s Soccer team filing a lawsuit, citing the discrepancy between their contributions to the success of the organization relative to the men’s team including gap in compensation and bonuses.

These stories are found across all sectors today; female CEOs, who make up a mere fraction of leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies, make significantly less than their male counterparts, and are penalized to a greater degree with fluctuations in stock prices and revenues for their companies. We see this with women in academia: women are less likely to receive tenure-track positions, and are paid less than men of the same academic standings.

This says a lot about how far we’ve come societally. The Equal Pay Act was signed into law on June, 10 1963, yet women across the board perform work of greater or equal value to men and are still compensated poorly. What norms does this reflect about the intelligence, voice, efforts, time, and bodies of women in our culture? And if it’s so pervasive—and well documented– in the top 1% of female earners, what’s the situation of everyone else?

The “gender-pay gap”—as well as discrimination and unequal access to social protection—goes beyond discrepancies between men and women. If we are to truly address inequality and poverty, we must look to gaps among women themselves.

Female CEOS make an average annual salary of $18.8 million. The top paid female soccer players are raking in between $450,000, plus some bonuses. Women in large corporations have access to human resources and legal representation when faced with harassment and discrimination. They often receive benefits for themselves and their families with health insurance, paid leisure time and employer contributions to pensions.

A wider view of the labor market tells a much different tale. 26.8% of women work in low-wage jobs in New York; for example, women dominate service and care industries, with average annual wages of $ 26,200 (2014) and $20,490, respectively. The median income for women in the state is $43,800–and they’re making less than 88% of what men make. And within these low-wage sectors, there’s incredible racial disparity: African American child care workers make almost twice what Latina childcare workers earn ($21,400 compared to $11, 200).

And wages are only the tip of the iceberg when we talk about the situation of women at work-harassment, discrimination, lack of long-term job security and unregulated working conditions threatening the livelihoods and security of thousands of women. These issues have been gaining more mainstream attention, many based in New York, such as the Fight for $15 and Fast Food Forward, strong worker organizing through the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the Urban Justice Center, and outreach and education initiatives like the Nanny Van.

This is reflected in the recent Women’s Equality Agenda passed by Governor Andrew Cuomo for New York State, which address some of these critical issues: including violence against women in the work force, pregnancy protection, paid family leave, bringing an end to familial status and employment discrimination, and strengthening human trafficking laws.

The recently approved state budget for 2016 has also attempted to include some of these pressing priorities. Estimated at $150 billion, Cuomo had wins with high-profile policy measures such as New York City’s $15 incremental minimum wage increase and 12 weeks of paid time off.

As austerity cuts to social protection programs, job training, health insurance and housing subsidies disproportionally impact women, the budget also looks to residents’ abilities to earn an adequate standard of living. It contains income tax cuts beginning in 2018 for those making below $300,000, and takes measures to increase budgets for local school districts. $20 billion will be going toward homelessness and the affordable housing crisis.

If we’re serious about closing the gender-wage gap, and coming together to address severe levels of inequality in this country, we’ve got to do better than just budget allocations.

As the presidential elections approach, it is essential that we begin to change the conversation around women’s work and our economy: paid family leave, violence in the workplace, and flexible scheduling for care giving aren’t just “women’s issues. They are issues that deeply impact our society as a whole and prevent cities and neighborhoods from flourishing. Recognition of the problems is only the first step: the real work begins when we assess and improve the impacts of these services on the everyday lives of people.

Women’s Participation in the Green Economy: Finding Better Jobs and Environmental Solutions

By Maegan Kae Sunaz

March was the warmest month in recorded history, and the past six months have all set the warmest months on record.[1] If it wasn’t clear before, it’s definitely becoming apparent that climate change is real and it’s subtly creeping into our lives in insidious ways that can ultimately result in extreme heat waves, rising sea-levels, changes in precipitation that create floods or droughts, degraded air quality and more.[2] While part of recent changes is due to natural El Niño patterns, human-produced greenhouse gases poured into the atmosphere is the main contributor of climate change.[3]

Being a vulnerable group, women are more severely affected by climate change than men. The ICUN (World Conservation Union) released a report that predicts that the physical, economic, social and cultural impacts of global warming will jeopardize women far more than men, because of women’s social roles, trend of discrimination and poverty.[4]

There’s a lot at stake for women, and so it’s crucial to pay attention to how the next most powerful person in the world—the next president of the United States—is going to handle this issue. Although some Republicans would like to ignore what’s been scientifically asserted as a real phenomenon[5], the Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders include in their platform how they want to tackle the problem of climate change.

Clinton seeks to launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities and give them tools that go beyond the minimum federal standards in cutting carbon pollution. She wants to make American manufacturing the cleanest in the world. She did not specify how many jobs she wants to create, but she does plan on creating jobs in the clean energy sector.[6]

Sanders is looking to support American workers who are moving into clean energy jobs by introducing the Clean Energy Workers Just Transition Act, which provides a comprehensive package of benefits for workers that include extended unemployment benefits, education opportunities, health career and job training. The bill also allows for the creation of a workers union. He also wants to stop subsidizing fossil fuel companies, and create 10 million good-paying jobs to make a Clean Energy Workforce.[7]

Both candidates say they want to expand green jobs, which currently needs more women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that there are about 3.1 million people currently working in green jobs, and although women are half of the workforce, women make up roughly 30 percent of green employees.[8]

What accounts for this disparity is part of a broader problem where women are absent in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, which are major components of green jobs.[9]

However, there’s great incentive for women to participate in the green economy. Not only are green jobs sustainable and good for the environment, but women worker’s median earnings are higher in the green economy than in the overall economy.[10] In 33 states, women in green jobs earn at least $1,000 more per year for full-time year round work than women working in a different sector.[11] Moreover, the gender wage gap for women in the green economy is smaller at 18 percent, compared to 22 percent in the economy as a whole.[12]

Minorities also have staying power in environmental jobs. A University of Michigan study shows that salaries of minority workers are almost completely unrelated to race, with virtually identical salaries. Experiences of salary discrimination can still exist, since minorities were likely to have lower starting salaries.

There are support systems that encourage women to acquire green occupations. The U.S. Department of Labor created “Why Green is Your Color Web-Based Training,”[13] as well as “Why Green Is Your Color: A Woman’s Guide to a Sustainable Career,” a guide for women to find and acquire green jobs by giving resources for women entrepreneurs interested in the green economy.[14]

Climate change is a pressing issue that we need to tackle together, and overall more work is needed to promote the potential benefits of green jobs to women and close the gender gap in employment within this sector. Continue reading “Women’s Participation in the Green Economy: Finding Better Jobs and Environmental Solutions”

Las mujeres con voz sabemos de qué se trata

En Argentina, la Asociación de Mujeres Argentinas por los Derechos Humanos (AMADH) y Cine en Movimiento trabajan desde el audiovisual, las problemáticas de la trata de personas/explotación sexual/prostitución. Graciela Collantes, coordinadora de la AMADH, nos habla a continuación sobre los aprendizajes e impacto de esta colaboración.

Desde su experiencia ha sido difícil abordar estos temas por el miedo a la discriminación, sobre todo al tratarse de contar su historia de vida. 10410626_692415954158253_6002862309193947478_n

Según Graciela, si bien existen distintas campañas contra la trata impulsadas por los gobiernos y organismos internacionales, éstas no logran interpelar a sus destinatarios por desconocer desde adentro la problemática. En ese sentido, para ellas es importante elaborar sus propios mensajes y campañas, sensibilizando y previniendo desde su propia experiencia.

“Queremos llegar no sólo a quienes tienen acceso a las herramientas de comunicación, sino a las personas en mayor situación de vulnerabilidad que no siempre tienen acceso a Internet, televisión, etc. Por eso usamos nuestros materiales para sensibilizar en los barrios, escuelas, clubes barriales.”

Cine en Movimiento trabaja siempre desde la perspectiva de la educación popular, donde cada taller de cine se transforma en un espacio de reflexión, intercambio y encuentro de saberes.10334329_692414257491756_5753058333461979753_n

El taller en AMADH ha permitido poner en escena las vivencias y relatos de mujeres en situación en prostitución, quienes son sistemáticamente estigmatizadas en los medios masivos de comunicación.10635843_733631796703335_6201533752462779710_n

Puedes ver los spots La soga y La casa desde el canal de Youtube de Cine en Movimiento. Agradecemos la colaboración de Graciela Collantes de la AMADH y Sol Benavente de Cine en Movimiento en este blog.


Guía y serie de videos para realizar entrevistas seguras, efectivas y éticas con sobrevivientes de violencia basada en género o sexual.

Este blog es parte del desfile de blogs de ¡Dominemos la tecnología! Del 25  de noviembre al 10 de diciembre nos sumamos a la campaña de @DominemoslasTIC para compartir experiencias de mujeres que utilizan video para combatir la violencia y recomendaciones para documentar estas historias de forma segura y ética.

*This blog is posted from as part of the 16 Days Blog Parade. CWGL is encouraging activists, NGOs, and the greater online community to write about issues concerning unequal access to a safe education and GBV as well as other intersection of gender-based violence.

** The content here may not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership or the 16 Days Campaign **

Gender equality; not just a women’s issue

By Sophia Papastavrou, Gender Learning Hub Lead for World Vision’s Middle East and Eastern Europe regional office

This year marks the 24th year of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign whose goal is the elimination of violence against women and girls. Although, as a global community, we have made great strides, there is still much work to be done.

Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering about what kind of future lies ahead for women? What kind of future lies ahead for the future generations? And, what kind of future lies ahead for my four-month old daughter, Anna? It goes without saying that my daughter will be in a place of privilege.  Unlike 30 per cent of babies born each year (1), my daughter (and I) have access to high-quality maternal health services. In contrast to the more than 1 billion people who lack access to clean water, my daughter has a nearly unlimited supply. She won’t have to waste her time, potentially miss out on her education and be exposed to danger in order to carry jerry cans back and forth to fetch often filthy water. And, unlike an estimated 62 million girls around the world, Anna will have access to an education and be able to enjoy access to equal opportunities that allow her to learn in a safe environment.

The problem is her ‘privileges’ are not privileges at all. Access to healthcare, clean water and education are all essential human rights; rights that are all too often not extended to women around the world.

Despite all our progress, although women make up half the world’s population they continue to represent a staggering 70 per cent of the world’s poor. Their economical poverty is just the tip of the iceberg. Many other inequalities, such as lack of access to education, poor nutrition and unequal pay lurk beyond the surface, teaching us that we cannot simply focus on what is visible, we must also address what is invisible.  To address the base of the iceberg, we must put resources into women’s hands while at the same time promoting gender equality at household and in societal levels while empowering girls and young women to make informed choices.

World Vision’s reporting has found that young girls living in fragile, conflict and transitional societies continue to risk their lives simply to go to school—girls like Malala who was shot in the head as she was on the bus to school. The attack against her and her refusal to stand down from what she believed was right, brought to light the plight of millions of children around the world who are denied an education today. In Afghanistan, there were at least 185 documented attacks on schools and hospitals last year. In Pakistan, 140 students were killed as gunmen went from classroom to classroom. Such violent acts are often attributed to armed groups opposed to girls’ education.

Violence against women often starts before they are even born and continues throughout their lives. In Armenia, World Vision is working to reduce sex-selective abortion. The impact of this project has showed strong indicators of success, including a decline in domestic violence, increased school enrollment, and an increase in shared responsibility for child caregiving. As a result, 43.2 per cent of participants mentioned at least three changes in their perceptions/attitudes/behaviours regarding gender equality. In Lebanon and Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza, World Vision is working with local partners to raise awareness of domestic violence and abuse. In Albania, we are helping girls, like Merushe Tojalli, 16, reach their dreams of a secondary education.  “For most of my young life I was planning on and living [to reach my] dream to become a doctor,” she says. But, like many girls across Albania, Merushe’s dream was crushed when it came face-to-face with the harsh reality. As if poverty wasn’t enough of a hurdle, Merushe also faced the added level of traditional barriers. “I ran into the cold cultural wall blocking females from higher education,” she says. Merushe is one of the girls who participated in the campaign and advocated for access to education. She was at in the eighth grade at the time.  She never knew that the next year she would find herself on the same path as the girls she was advocating for.

In Afghanistan we are providing girls living in poverty access to education through a Street Kids Project: 92.5 per cent of children of the Street Children project are now attending school. Additionally, early childhood education ensures that education for girls is prioritized from a young age 637 children (316 girls and 321 boys) of age 5 years old completed the ECCD program with 95.5% of the children scoring high on school readiness indicators.

It is only through the elimination of violence and discrimination against women and girls  that we can hope to achieve the sustainable, peaceful and just society that everyone, especially girls deserve. All girls have the right to have access to healthcare and education, they have the right to be protected at home and in public, they have the right to be free from the fear or act of acid attacks, rape, and assault and the right enjoy access to equal opportunities.

We can have the future we want and need. Each and every one of us have the responsibility to help both men and women, boys and girls in our communities and spheres of influence to understand why gender matters and why gender equality is essential to sustainable development.  Over the next 16 Days, during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, I challenge all to take the road less travelled and delve into the stark realities that resisting gender brings to our future.

*This blog is posted from as part of the 16 Days Blog Parade. CWGL is encouraging activists, NGOs, and the greater online community to write about issues concerning unequal access to a safe education and GBV as well as other intersection of gender-based violence.

** The content here may not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership or the 16 Days Campaign **