Blog Post written by: International Rescue Committee
Gender-based violence is a major challenge that prevents women and girls all over the world from living the full, healthy lives they deserve. On International Day to End Violence Against Women (VAW) on November 25, the global community will rally together to raise awareness and urge action to end the global prevalence of violence against women.
In recognition of this day, Johnson & Johnson and partners are coming together to tell stories of how people around the world work in their communities to help stop violence against women. In this blog series, we are spotlighting community members in 3 countries that are on the frontlines of addressing gender-based violence in their communities.
Throughout the week of November 21 and in the lead up to the actual day, follow @JNJGlobalHealth as we share the importance of collective action within communities to drive forward action to eliminate violence against women.
The International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) comprehensive approach to women’s protection and empowerment supports the pursuit of a world where women and girls live free from violence as valued and respected members of their community. In nearly 30 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the U.S., the IRC delivers innovative programs focused on preventing and responding to violence against women and girls (VAWG). Johnson & Johnson has supported this work in 6 fragile and conflict-affected states in Africa and currently partners with IRC in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
Delphin Baguma, Health Officer, International Rescue Committee, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Liliane Maombi, Health Supervisor, International Rescue Committee, DRC work to end violence against women.
This is the first of 3 blog posts spotlighting how collective, community-oriented action is needed to end violence against women around the world.
How do you work to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) or to support/care for survivors of violence in your community?
Delphin (D): Women come to us after a referral from a member of the community, or arrive themselves because they’ve heard we can help them. Also, we work in collaboration with health service. If there is a survivor who was a victim of gender-based violence (GBV) and attends a health training, she receives a post-exposure HIV prophylaxis, and then a follow-up is conducted. Health providers educate survivors about other services available, such as psychological services, where we have psycho-social assistants who work closely with nurses in health facilities. All programs are designed to prevent violence against women and girls.
Liliane (L): IRC places a big focus on ending violence against women at the community level. We train members of the community on the rights of women and what gender-based violence (GBV) means. Education is key, and as such, we offer free preventive services such as prenatal care, preschool services, postnatal consultations and more, because women and families need to be educated at every step of the way. We hold meetings with community health workers, offer training courses in key areas such as the root causes and mental/physical consequences of GBV, and educate them about the importance of maintaining confidentiality and referring women for the services they need. During the meetings, workers can talk about what they’ve learned and what they are hearing from people in the community.
What progress do you see in your community to end violence against women and girls?
D: In the gender-based violence screening tool and the exit interview questionnaire administered to some of the women who’ve experienced violence, they’ve said notably that GBV screening when they’ve come to us for prenatal care and family planning have made a difference. We see that there is progress. Beneficiaries who received the questionnaires say they are actively participating and recommending education for their husbands because it is they who are at the core of violence against women and girls. In some cases, IRC holds discussion groups for men and discussion groups for women where they learn various subjects for the prevention of violence against women and girls. Also, 100% of sexual violence survivors in our community come to organizations or health facilities within 72 hours. The whole community already knows there are other forms of gender-based violence because community workers, community leaders and psycho-social workers continuously educate on the fight against violence against women and girls. Trainings are made through our community organizations and foundations etc.
L: Women in the community are gradually learning what their rights are, and there has been a great deal of progress in the area of sexual violence.
Who else in your community participates in the solutions or the fight to end VAWG?
D: The entire community must participate, but having female jurists in the legal and judicial profession makes a big difference. National services, including the central offices of the Health area, Social Affairs Division, Division on Gender, Women and the Family, etc. also play a key role.
L: Community leaders have taken the issue of gender violence very seriously, and have played a critical role in educating and training to prevent violence.