Today is the International Day to End Violence Against Women
, an awareness and advocacy campaign organized by a host of UN agencies and offices “to galvanize action across the UN system to prevent and punish violence against women.”
Gender equity and inequity play a role in a myriad of international development, health, security, and even environmental issues, from rape as a weapon of war; demography’s effects on political stability; maternal health and its impact on child development; women’s rights as a social stability issue; and the disproportionate effect of climate change on rural women.
The numbers around gender-based violence are staggering. According to the UN:
Here are some of New Security Beat’s posts on gender-based violence and inequity and their intersection with development, the environment, and security:
- 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime.
- Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 women and girls were raped in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence, mostly involving women and girls, have been documented since 1996, though the actual numbers are considered to be much higher.
- In the United States, one-third of women murdered each year are killed by intimate partners; in South Africa, a woman is killed every six hours by an intimate partner; in India, 22 women were killed each day in dowry-related murders in 2007; and in Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
- Over 60 million girls worldwide are child brides, married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.1 million) and sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million).
Gender-Based Violence in the DRC: Research Findings and Programmatic Implications:
Dr. Lynn Lawry, senior health stability and humanitarian assistance specialist at the U.S. Department of Defense, presented findings from the first cross-sectional, randomized cluster study on gender-based violence in the DRC at the Wilson Center this year. The first of its kind in the region, the population-based, quantitative study covered three districts in the DRC and a total of 5.2 million adults, comprehensively assessing gender-based violence, including its prevalence, circumstances, perpetrators, and physical and mental health impacts.
Pop Audio: Judith Bruce on Empowering Adolescent Girls in Post-Earthquake Haiti: “The most striking thing about post-conflict and post-disaster environments is that what lurks there is also this extraordinary opportunity,” said Judith Bruce, a senior associate and policy analyst with the Population Council. Bruce spent time last year working with the Haiti Adolescent Girls Network, a coalition of humanitarian groups conducting workshops focused on the educational, health, and security needs of the country’s vulnerable female youth population.
The Walk to Water in Conflict-Affected Areas: Constituting a majority of the world’s poor and at the same time bearing responsibility for half the world’s food production and most family health and nutrition needs, women and girls regularly bear the burden of procuring water for multiple household and agricultural uses. When water is not readily accessible, they become a highly vulnerable group. Where access to water is limited, the walk to water is too often accompanied by the threat of attack and violence.
Weathering Change: New Film Links Climate Adaptation and Family Planning: “Our planet is changing. Our population is growing. Each one of us is impacting the environment…but not equally. Each one of us will be affected…but not equally,” asserts the new documentary, Weathering Change, launched at the Wilson Center in September. The film, produced by Population Action International, explores the devastating impacts of climate change on the lives of women in developing countries through personal stories from Ethiopia, Nepal, and Peru.
Sajeda Amin on Population Growth, Urbanization, and Gender Rights in Bangladesh:
The Population Council’s Sajeda Amin describes the Growing Up Safe and Healthy (SAFE) project, launched in Dhaka and other Bangladeshi cities last. The initiative aims, to increase access to reproductive healthcare services for adolescent girls and young women, bolstering social services to protect those populations from (and offer treatment for) gender-based violence, and strengthen laws designed to reduce the prevalence of child marriage – a long-standing Bangladeshi institution that keeps population growth rates high while denying many young women the opportunity to pursue economic and educational advancement.
No Peace Without Women: On October 31, 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, which called for women’s equal participation in all efforts to maintain and promote peace and security; however, little progress has been made over these last 10 years and women remain on the periphery when it comes to post-conflict reconstruction and development. A report from the humanitarian organization CARE concedes that “much of the action remains declarative rather than operational.”
Addressing Gender-Based Violence to Curb HIV: At last year’s International AIDS Conference in Vienna an astonishing development in the campaign to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS was unveiled – a microbicide with the ability to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV. This welcome development coincides with an intensified focus on women’s health and security needs among donors, especially the United States.
The Future of Women in the MENA Region: A Tunisian and Egyptian Perspective: Lilia Labidi, minister of women’s affairs for the Republic of Tunisia and former Wilson Center fellow, joined Moushira Khattab, former minister of family and population for Egypt, this summer at the Wilson Center to discuss the role and expectations of women in the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions, as well as issues to consider as these two countries move forward.
Sources: UN Secretary-General’s Office.