Gender-based violence (GBV) affects every country, every society and —directly or indirectly—every person on the planet. While practical solutions and services have been developed at a local level to meet the specific needs of victims, the root causes of this violence are a central piece of the agenda that must be addressed to effectively combat the issue.
It is universally accepted that education fosters economic development, so many coordinated efforts such as public-private partnerships are focused there. However, this same faith does not translate to the prevention of GBV, even though research confirms its efficacy, especially when implemented at early ages.
The perception that GBV is private or personal to the those involved often makes people feel as though they are intruding, adding to the difficulty in addressing it. What is not understood, however, is that our silence or lack of engagement often contributes to further harm and the perception that GBV is an intractable problem.
Unfortunately, the government does little to dispel this notion. While we see indications of political will, legislation, and services on the ground, the immense responsibility of prevention work is left primarily to the NGO sector and localized funding. But this is about to change for nearly one-third of the world’s population.
Today, the Commonwealth States are turning the page by creating prevention programs and strategies that will support a cultural change. On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, The Commonwealth of Nations and NO MORE announce our joint initiative to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault and fuel culture change in the Commonwealth’s 53 member states.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland announced the partnership this morning in London, where she was joined by NO MORE Global Executive Director Pamela Zaballa and representatives of high commissions, businesses, academia, and women’s rights organizations.
The partnership is designed to work on the prevention of domestic violence and sexual abuse by enabling and empowering grassroots organizations, educating bystanders on how to respond to violence, and providing awareness tools and resources to people throughout the Commonwealth’s member states.
Everybody, everywhere needs to help prevent Gender-based Violence.
Ours is a global society with the ability to collectively learn, communicate, share, and understand at our fingertips.
This connectedness will drive the awareness, education, and investment required to make a real and lasting impact. But it will take everyone’s help. Here’s what you can do:
Believe: Trust that prevention is part of the solution – do not lose faith. Promote the work and the value of investing in educating children and adults. Encourage people in schools, places of worship, sports institutions, and clubs to learn and talk about domestic and sexual violence or our work will never end;
Learn: Understand that no one country or community holds the key to ending GBV. We have to work together to find a solution. Fortunately, there are so many success stories from around the world that we can learn from, and soon, a digital platform to turn to for information.
Support: Help each other and share resources. Collaborative initiatives work much better than trying to do everything ourselves.
Connect: Look outside your community, even if you are working in a local program. The world is bigger than what’s immediately around you – connect with networks and share experiences.
Let’s make awareness, education, and prevention the norm, and end gender-based violence together.