Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls
Today, November 25th, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Each year, November 25th marks a day to draw attention to the violence women face across the world and celebrate efforts to eliminate it. Globally, violence affects one in three women and girls during their lifetime. Today, we shine the spotlight on Nepal where gender-based violence remains the leading cause of violent deaths, ahead of politics and crime.
’The problem I see in my community is domestic violence – for example, husbands beating and emotionally abusing wives,’ explains Nanu a young girl from a rural community in Nepal. At 14 years old, she wants change and is thinking about how to get it. ‘If I were in charge of the community, firstly I would collect data regarding domestic violence. Then, I would invite men and women from every household, tell them about the laws against domestic violence, and show them a drama on the consequences of domestic violence. I would also establish a separate office for reporting cases of domestic violence where the lawyers would provide free service,’ she explains.
Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent forms of violence against women and girls. Around the world, 30% of women who have been in relationships have experienced violence from their partners. But domestic violence can go unnoticed, hidden behind closed doors. School based prevention programmes that address intimate partner violence are one strategy shown to reduce domestic violence.
In Nepal, People in Need and Hamro Palo in partnership with CARE and UK Aid are supporting young women in their efforts to reduce violence against women, inside and outside the home. Together, we run and support Her Turn - education and empowerment workshops for girls aged between 12 and 16. The workshops raise awareness and understanding about a range of important topics from health to safety, exploring issues such as domestic violence, menstruation, sexual abuse, human trafficking and early marriage. The latter part of the workshop is dedicated to building confidence and developing leadership skills; in essence, giving girls the opportunity to find their voice and have it be heard. The girls implement a small community project and direct a community ceremony, during which they demonstrate their new skills in front of parents, teachers and other community members. These events serve as advocacy platforms for the girls to talk about issues they find important.
The girls who completed the Her Turn program told us boys needed to be engaged in violence prevention, a point backed by research and expert opinion. So, we recently started running similar workshops with boys of the same age focused on issues that matter to them, as well as helping them think critically about how they interact with girls.
At the young age of 14, Sujata, a Her Turn champion, is already thinking of ways to tackle violence in her community. ‘If I were in charge of the community, I would establish a women’s police station,’ she states, explaining further that, ‘With the help of female police, I would work to bring awareness among people on laws related to harassment and sexual abuse, and provide trainings to the police on these issues to hold them accountable. I would also establish a safe home for survivors of violence and people with disabilities.’
Nanu and Sujata are just two of the many young, brave and determined women in Nepal who see the problem of gender-based violence around them and are calling for change. Today, we stand with them to call for the elimination of violence against women in Nepal and in every country.