Rabat – November 25 marked the 36 annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Every year, governments, NGOs, corporations and international agencies worldwide vow their commitment to battle gender inequality. However, as 2017 comes to a close, the international community is facing multiple challenges in regards to this effort.
Agencies seeking to advance gender equality priorities are discovering that cultural norms and long-held traditions—important components of societies across the globe—can create significant obstacles for both domestic and foreign advocates.
Since 1981, women’s rights activists and organizations have been organizing the commemoration day every November 25 to fight against gender-based violence in memory of the Mirabal sisters, four Dominican sisters who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) and who were actively involved in opposing his regime. Trujillo was a dictator and a ruthless politician who ruled the Dominican Republic for 31 years; his reign is considered one of the bloodiest and most oppressive in the history of the Americas. Three of the four sisters were killed on the orders of Trujillo.
In 1999 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, calling for governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities and campaigns globally in order to raise awareness of the problems of gender inequality gender-based violence.
Various Forms of Violence Worldwide
Violence against women is the most extreme form of gender discrimination, according to UN data. Surveys conducted from 2005 to 2016 in 87 countries indicate that 19 percent of women aged 15 to 45 years reported having suffered physical or social violence by an intimate partner.
Such forms of violence can lead to death. Nearly half of the world’s female victims of voluntary homicide had been killed by an intimate partner or family member, according to the same survey results.
According to another report issued by the UN in August, almost 120 million girls worldwide have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives. The data indicated that, “the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls are current or former husbands, partners or boyfriends”
More than 750 million girls across the globe were married before their 18th birthday, according to a 2017 UNICEF report. The report also noted that this issue of child marriage is more prevalent in West and Central Africa, where over 4 in 10 girls were married before age 18 and where 1 in 7 were married on in union before age 15.
A 2016 UN report on human trafficking indicated adult women represent 51 percent of all human trafficking victims worldwide; women and girls together account for 71 percent. The report also noted that girls represent “nearly three out of every four child trafficking victims.”
Challenges to Curb Violence Against Women
Violence against women is now increasingly recognized as a major and direct challenge to global development worldwide. The United Nations acknowledges that the lack of funding is one of the main obstacles to the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. But the UN is hopeful that comprehensive programs and guidelines, including the agency’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, will allow continued progress in the efforts to eliminate violence against women and promote gender equality.
The UN has also embarked on a new global initiative called “Spotlight Initiative” in collaboration with the European Union, with the view to eliminating all forms of violence against women. The initiative seeks to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The Initiative will have a simple but important guiding principle: leaving no one behind.