Why 2014 is a key subject of gender equality and women’s rights?

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Empowering women is not only a natural human right to achieve, but also smart economic objective and crucial to ending poverty and boosting economic development.

Let’s go back to the history, actually over the past few years; the incredible work of women’s movements across the world has brought some positive changes. Countries started to recognize the fact that it is necessary to meet the needs of the other half of the population (women) which is left out of education and work, and of course not included in decision-making.

The past 20 years were recognized by signing international agreements boosting the women’s rights situation. For example 1994 was marked by “the International Conference on Population and Development”, which shifted the importance on population control from government efforts to ensure family planning, to guarantee women’s empowerment and improve their lives. This initiative scrutinized issues like access to decent reproductive health services, sexual health advice and eliminate domestic violence and forced marriage.179 countries signed up to the 200 recommendations of the initiative. What a huge step!

Then there was “the Fourth World Conference on Women” committed to achieving gender equality by ensuring women’s involvement in public and private life and allowing them an equal voice in decision-making.

Last September, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson delivered a special speech for special event “HeForShe campaign” at the United Nations Headquarters, highlighting the importance of the participation of men in ending gender inequality.

But with all this success comes the backlash, since globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime, and more than 140 million women are estimated to be living with the consequences of Female Genital Mutilation. What are we going to do about this? Why is it too complicated to end up the issue of violence against women?

In 2010, a research by the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (Awid) discovered that Women’s rights organizations are underfunded as the average annual of income of 740 organizations was about $20,000.

And regardless of numerous UN resolutions that indicate the necessity of women’s involvement in peace and reconciliation, women are still not included in peace talks.

According to World Health Organization, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. 30% of women who were in relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner. Globally, 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.

Shocking right? This is just the beginning.

Referring to the WHO, between 15% of women in Japan and 71% of women in Ethiopia stated physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, between 0.3–11.5% of women reported experiencing sexual violence by someone other than a partner since the age of 15 years; The first sexual experience for many women was reported as forced – 17% of women in rural Tanzania, 24% in rural Peru, and 30% in rural Bangladesh reported that their first sexual experience was forced.

Recent reviews of European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights showed that in Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day. In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’. In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners. In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

I’m asking you, how do you feel as a human being after reading this an unlimited numbers of killing, murdering, and violence? How could you, I and we do to change this?

When a woman is violated, this means lower levels of education attainment, health issues, exposure to child maltreatment, suffering from antisocial personality disorder, excluding from the society and development, and accepting the violence and gender inequality.

If the world does not address this issue, it is a waste of the massive potential of women and girls. When they feel safe, when they are empowered, women and girls can be change-makers. The innovators of tomorrow, the power behind stronger economies, and the leaders of a more just country but a whole world.

To end violence, governments need to accelerate their efforts to face this issue by endorsing legislation and developing policies that address discrimination against women; promote gender equality; and to help out to move towards more peaceful cultural norms.

Men need to show respect to women, beating your girlfriend, wife or sisters or any girl, doesn’t make you a man, but a violent.

Ladies, don’t you ever accept to be violated by anyone, don’t let the cultural forms control you as a human being, don’t let them enforce you to accept violence. It is your right to live a peaceful and respectful life.

Living free from violence is a human right, yet many women suffer excessively from violence both in peace and in war, in the home and community, in the city and the country side. Across the globe, women are beaten, raped, injured, and killed.

I hope that 2015 will be a key solution to end violence against women and not just a subject.

Your voice has power. Use it to help put an end to gender-based violence by supporting the International Violence against Women Act during #16Days of Activism!

Do something about it! Start now!

Violence against Women 1_0

Sana AFOUAIZ

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