The sixteen days between International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, observed on November 25th, and Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10th, are dedicated to raising awareness of gender-based violence and to finding effective ways to prevent and eliminate it.
“One in three women and girls will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes, and 70 percent of women experience gender-based violence in humanitarian contexts,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a written statement. “Gender-based violence against LGBTQI+ persons, persons with disabilities, members of marginalized ethnic and racial communities, older persons, and members of other marginalized populations are also widespread and often perpetrated without justice for survivors.”
According to the United Nations, today, women’s rights around the world are under attack. Anti-feminist movements and attacks against women human rights defenders and activists are on the rise. In settings of conflict and crisis, women and girls disproportionately face gender-based violence. Online gender-based violence is increasing, compounding existing forms of violence and leading to the emergence of new ones. Laws against domestic violence are being weakened, governments are using force against gender-based violence protestors, and women’s rights organizations are being increasingly marginalized.
Nonetheless, gender-based violence is preventable. A strong and autonomous women’s movement is the single most important driver of policy change, so it’s more important than ever to show solidarity with feminist movements and advocates around the world. It’s important that survivors of gender-based violence are believed and supported. Behavior that reinforces biases and stereotypes, that perpetuate misogyny such as bullying, cat-calling and sexual harassment – online and offline - must be called out. Toxic masculinity must not be tolerated.
At the same time, shelters, counseling, and other crucial support that can make a difference between life and death, must be made available to survivors of gender-based violence. Also, protection mechanisms to prevent and respond to violence, harassment, threats, intimidation, and discrimination against women human rights defenders must be strengthened.
To get all this done, we need more women and male allies in decision-making positions and women leaders must also be well protected as they advocate for change.
Gender-based violence is too often normalized within a given society. This leads to failure by authorities to recognize and value the human rights of women and girls, in all their diversity, and impunity when these crimes are committed. The United States is committed to shining a spotlight on gender-based violence and to working with our partners toward its elimination.