This week, we at Girls’ Globe are raising awareness about every-day violence against women and girls. Earlier this week, Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission published The Locust Effect, a book that paints a shameful picture of the lives of millions of poor people to whom experiencing violence is more a rule than an exception.
Though it’s clear that the road to a violence-free world remains long and that progress is currently too slow and too uneven, a lot is still happening in every corner of the world. Identifying promising interventions and celebrating success is important, and leveraging programs that have potential for scale-up and replication is crucial for sustainable progress on the road towards a violence-free world. At Girls’ Globe, we celebrate innovation and out-of-the box ways to deal with challenges that girls and women face around the world – and violence against women and girls is most definitely a challenge that needs to be tackled from all angles, and with innovative approaches.
We need innovation, because business as usual is simply not enough anymore. We need new tools, new programs, new players, new messages – because what we are doing now is not working well enough, or fast enough.
So how do we innovate to end violence against girls and women? Many organizations are using new technologies to end violence and increase women’s and girls’ safety. Platforms such as HarassMap, launched in Egypt in 2011, allow women and girls to report incidences of violence which are geotagged, helping users to identify hotspots for violence. Last year, the World Bank organized a hackathon in Kathmandu to create mobile applications to end gender-based violence. Similar hackathon was also organized to address domestic violence in Central America. Technology can be used to share messages that promote social and normative change, to allow women to report incidences of violence, and access information on what their rights are and where to get help.
Non-technology based innovations are equally, if not more, important. Many poor people still lack access to ICTs, and therefore non-technology innovations are crucial for ensuring that progress reaches the most poor and most marginalized. Every year, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women provides grants to organizations around the world working on ending violence against women and girls. Last year, grants were given to Grassroot Soccer in South Africa, an organization using soccer and sports as a way to foster girls’ empowerment; a project in Fiji that included establishing mobile health clinics to provide improved access to sexual and reproductive healthcare and sexual assault counseling and referral services; and a project in India that aims to change prevailing accepting attitudes towards violence against women and girls through a multi-pronged approach involving use of media, community mobilization and leadership training – among others. Many of the funded projects also address the issue of weak or non-existent laws or insufficient implementation and enforcement of laws – a topic that is covered in detail in The Locust Effect.
Violence puts at risk all other aspects of women’s and girls’ lives – their health, their education, their independence, their income, their ability to made decisions and participate in their communities, their empowerment – their life. It is clear that there is no silver bullet to this problem, no magical solution, no one size fits all model – but what is also clear is that it takes all of us to change the reality that millions of women and girls face every day: A reality filled with violence and fear. Change starts from the grassroots, from awareness that turns into action, and we each have a role to play. YOU can start by finding ways to volunteer in your community; by speaking and standing up against violence everywhere; and by visiting The Locust Effect to learn more about the universal plague of violence and about what you can do to help. Time to think outside the box and step up the efforts – there is simply no more time to waste.
Featured image courtesy of Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank