Diane Francis report: Stop Violence against Women and Girls
Violence against Women and girls (VAWG)—the systemic abuse and enslavement of females—represents one of the world’s greatest moral challenges. “It’s the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” declared Hillary clinton.(1) In the twentieth century, violence against women has been criminalized in the developed world and sizeable resources have been provided by the un, non-governmental organizations and governments to increase public awareness about the issues.
However, the facts continue to tell a discouraging tale. Women ages 15 to 44 are more likely to become victims of rape and domestic violence than they are to be afflicted as the result of cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.(2) Girls are three times more likely to be malnourished than boys.(3) of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70% are girls. Each year, roughly two million girls between the ages of 5 and 15 are trafficked, sold or coerced into the sex trade.4,5 girls are disproportionately affected by harmful practices such as slave or forced labor, rape, early and forced marriage, honor killings, the abortion of female fetuses, and female genital mutilation.
VAWG also exists in developed countries even though laws against domestic abuse, trafficking and other practices have existed for
decades. Immigrants may import their abusive behavior. There are consequences for the perpetrators in the developed world as well as shelters for battered women, hotlines and a host of government and charitable programs. Even so, abuse persists and often victims are unable to take advantage of available resources.
the subordination and degradation of females is an age-old problem and has profound negative consequences. In recent decades, many countries have put systems in place to prevent and mitigate VAWg. Yet violence and gross abuse remain prevalent globally, mostly in developing countries. Wherever
it occurs, violence causes damage to families and communities. Those who witness sadistic or exploitative acts against their mothers and sisters can become perpetrators themselves and continue the cycle of violence in their homes and society at large.(6)
Internal and external pressure, aided by civil society and moral leaders, global solution networks (GSNs) or other non-state players, must be recruited to make a difference. These entities can help get inside, and work to create change in nation-states, religions, corporations and cultures that mistreat women, and bring about reforms in policies and laws.
Today, thousands of organizations are involved in helping women, but with varying effectiveness. As of March 2014, the open Directory Project (8) listed 24,896 sites in its VAWG category. As is often the case, many of these organizations operate in isolation and on shoestring budgets. They struggle to survive and there is much duplication and fragmentation of effort. Many lack the influence necessary to promote new laws or to intervene for victims.
The organizations and networks profiled in this report are established non-state players with fund-raising and operational scale. Individually, they advocate for women’s rights, take action in identified instances of abuse and seek restorative justice. Organizations discussed here include:
• Vital Voices—an advocacy network that identifies and mentors female leaders.
• Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch— watchdog networks that expose wrongdoing.
• Women living under Muslim laws—a knowledge and advocacy network that provides solidarity and research in 70 countries.
• safecity and HarassMap—operational and delivery networks that provide crisis mapping to help women navigate dangerous cities.
• tau investments—a governance network that aims to incentivize global supply chains to stop using forced or slave labor.
• Anonymous—a vigilante network that pursues perpetrators of VAWg and seeks justice on behalf of victims.
these networks are effective and greater global coordination across all VAWg organizations might increase their effectiveness as can the application of technology applied to global and local solutions.
This was published and commissioned by Global Solution Networks, a research project by Don Tapscott at the University of Toronto and supported by many organizations and corporations such as the World Economic Forum, Google, Apple and others.