The World YWCA begins the 16 Days of Activism Campaign 2010
As we observe the 2010 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and as we mark the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence on November 25, millions of women are being subjected to grave forms of violence.
The large number of victims of sexual and domestic violence and exploitations in virtually every country in the world demonstrates the severity of the problem. Every day, of every month, of every year, again and again, women are beaten, abused and raped. They bear the burden of unwanted pregnancies and of unsafe abortions. Communal and family ostracism, abandonment by spouses, being deemed unmarriageable or sick are all too common in the lives of women. Millions of women every day suffer from emotional distress, loss of status and a lack of access to communal resources. It is also widely recognised that violence is both a cause and consequence of HIV transmission.
Globally, up to 6 out of every 10 women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime (UNIFEM). Violence against women and girls can be present at every stage of their lives and it has far-reaching consequences in their relations with family, community, health services, the workplace, their peers, and with themselves. For women and girls 16–44 years old, violence is a major cause of death and disability.
According to a World Bank study, rape and domestic violence are more dangerous for women and girls than cancer, motor vehicle accidents, war and malaria. Studies also reveal increasing links between violence against women and HIV and AIDS. A survey among 1,366 South African women showed that women who were beaten by their partners were 48 percent more likely to be infected with HIV than those who were not.
The elimination of violence against women is a top priority for the World YWCA. In nearly 70 countries, YWCAs provide services for women facing violence and abuse. For many women, the YWCA represents a safe space. Through advocacy and services, YWCAs are working to ensure women and girls in their communities can live lives free of violence.
At the time that we celebrate the 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence, some YWCA Member Associations are taking important actions against violence. The YWCA of Canada, for example, launched the Rose Campaign to End Violence Against Women, a national advocacy campaign which allows individuals and groups to send a message to their Members of Parliament. The YWCA of Trinidad and Tobago will take a stand against violence by organising a series of activities that will focus on health and wellness, specifically sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and HIV and AIDS. The YWCA of Secunderabad India, will observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by spreading awareness on the issue by highlighting the role of the business community and by shedding the light on honour-killings, trafficking of girls and sexual violence in conflict. The YWCA of Nigeria’s, Joy Yakubu is also joining her voice to the campaign through the Women Leading Change Blog by posting her reflections on the intersections of militarism and violence against women.
In another effort to put an end to violence against women, the World YWCA also joins forces with its ecumenical partners, and notably with the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches who, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, are launching a manual entitled “ Created in God’s Image: From Hegemony to Partnership – a set of guidelines for discussion, theological reflection and bible study.”
While the World YWCA and its Member Associations continue to make their contributions on programmes on violence against women, the movement calls for more accountability and commitment towards actions that invest in women and girls. We can no longer live in a world where women and girls experience violence and are denied their basic human rights. We must demand a safe world for all!