It is undeniable that there is still a long way to go to achieve gender equality and put an end to gender violence worldwide. Even in the 21st century, being a woman can be a reason for contempt or mockery. Of course, women have already made strides towards equality like voting or reproductive rights in some countries. Having these essential rights was unheard of mere decades ago, but there is still so much to fight for, right?
Among the many issues that need to be solved, the fight against gender-based violence may be one of the most important at the moment.
Gender-based violence is defined by womenforwomen.org as “violence that is directed at an individual based on his or her biological sex OR gender identity. It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation, whether occurring in public or private life.” Also, it is important to consider that gender violence is present in all cultures and societies somehow - it doesn’t matter where you are from, your income, or beliefs as long as the rooted differentiation between genders is still there.
Gender roles within the family lead to discrimination in multiple ways. Maternity, the idea of the physical superiority of men, the idea that women can or can’t do certain things, or that we are not strong enough are just a few examples of notions that can lead to gender violence and do not discriminate or change between different contexts.
Sometimes, it can be hard to identify when gender violence occurs because it is so implicit that we can't even see it. It is so deeply rooted in our societies that we don’t even notice and recognize that the problem is there.
According to UN Women, around 736 million women around the world - almost one in three - have been subjected to intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both at least once in their life. Also, 6% of women globally report they have been subjected to sexual violence from someone other than their husband or partner.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly contributed to an increase in gender-based violence. Due to the pandemic, most of the world population had to go into quarantine and stay home for a very long time, making them spend more time with the people they lived with. This intensified relationships considerably, putting people on edge and making them more stressed, which increased triggers that lead to violence against women.
By September 2020, 52 countries had integrated prevention and response to violence against women and girls into COVID-19 response plans. Before the pandemic, most countries did not seem the issue of gender violence important enough for serious attention. They rarely passed legislation that addressed it, even with a third of women being victims of gender violence.
However, the pandemic worsened the issue so much that gender-based violence was finally factored into policy-making in more than a fourth of the countries in the world.
Gender violence is not only present at home but in every aspect of our lives. When someone disrespects a woman in her workplace, catcalls her in the street, or enforces stereotypes such as women being weak and emotional, they are feeding into a culture of deep violence and discrimination against women.
Gender-based violence is a deep social structure we will only be able to fight and eradicate if all of the population stand together. When we can see the problem in our daily lives and realize how intrinsic and deeply rooted it is, we will be able to truly change our society.
As women, we have a lot of power to raise awareness on the subject and promote and generate change, but it is once women and men join together to fight gender violence that we will be able to make a difference.
It is everyone’s responsibility to start this process and once we see it that way, we will be more powerful and able to transform the world into a better, safer place for women.
So what actions can we take to change this reality that women have been dealing with for so long? We come together, we speak up, and we spread the word about our goals and what we are fighting for. We need to make enough noise that everyone will hear us and come join us. Only by joining forces will we be strong enough to have a real chance to change our reality. The stronger our communities, the better our ability to eradicate gender violence and finally break the cycle of violence for our future generations.
On November 25th, SafeUP joined the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the 16 Days of Activism after this led by the UN. This is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about gender-based violence and for all of us as a society to be active and participate in a movement in which we all have a role to play.
By joining the SafeUP community, you will be able to contribute to this essential movement and help women feel safer and empowered today while building a better future together.
Follow our steps towards creating a change in our Instagram @safeup.en. Become a part of this community and start your journey towards a safer world for women, take an active role by joining SafeUP here.