All posts tagged: VAW

A Men’s Issue

On Monday, December 7, Vital Voices hosted their annual Voices of Solidarity awards to honor five men “who have shown courage and compassion in advocating on behalf of women and girls in the United States and around the world.” The five honorees were Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, former peacekeeper and diplomat; Gary Barker, founder of Promundo and global leader in engaging men to prevent violence against women; Sadou Lemankreo, a police officer and human rights defender in Cameroon; John Prendergast, activist and author working to support women survivors of conflict in Africa; and Tom Wilson, chairman and CEO of The Allstate Corporation. The five honorees have impressive experience working to empower women and engage men to change their attitudes and behaviors towards women. They are rightly honored for their work and should be held as models for how men should act worldwide. But my thoughts on the event, and the issue of violence against women in general, can be summed up with six words from Cindy Dyer early in the night: “Violence against women is …

When Time Stood Still: A Story of Courage, Survival, and Healing

Once in a while a book comes around that will have a profound impact on the lives of others. In a rare combination of personal reflection and professional insight, When Time Stood Still is a book that will not only assist in the healing of survivors, but also in public acknowledgement and understanding of childhood sexual abuse. ​The prevalence of child sexual abuse is difficult to determine in the world, as many victims are too young or vulnerable to disclose the experience. According to the Children Assessment Centre (CAC), an estimated 500,000 children were born in the US in 2014 will be sexually abused before they turn 18. Statistics available state that child rape occurs every two minutes and that 90 percent of molesters abuse children they know. Adult retrospective studies show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18. This translates to more than 42 million adult survivors of child sexual abuse living in the US. When Time Stood Still is a rare experience, …

The Women of ISIS

One of the most frequently mentioned names in the news today is ISIS, the extremist Islamic group that has seized international attention through acts of unusual barbarity, often filmed and distributed as terrorist propaganda. ISIS is not merely an extremist minority, but a powerful network of organized militants who control large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, and is quickly spreading to other parts of the world. ​ISIS’s culture of fear and control is not only aimed at the West, but at the citizens of the areas they have claimed. Women in particular have become targets under ISIS’s strict edicts, with their expectations and roles strictly defined by extremist ideology. A manifesto published by the group, written with the aim of outlining the role of women, gives a glimpse into life under ISIS rule. Though it deviates somewhat from a radical portrayal of Islamic laws – women are allowed a limited amount of education, are allowed unescorted out of the house under specific conditions, and are provided for in the case of widowhood – it …

Using Storytelling to Create Social Change

Violence is the second leading cause of death among adolescent girls globally. Not malnutrition or accidents or cardiovascular disease or maternal conditions. Violence. In fact, among girls aged 15 to 19 worldwide, almost one quarter (around 70 million) have reported experiencing some form of physical violence since the age of 15. These shocking statistics can leave one feeling overwhelmed, confused, and angry. Luckily there are many out there working to change the lives of girls for the better. Rebecca Barry wasn’t on the course to advocate for the health and rights of girls and women, but her life took a turn in 2009 while on holiday in Samoa. What happened inspired her to find a way to use her skills and resources to raise awareness and connect others looking to create change. Girls Globe recently sat down with the director and producer of I AM A GIRL to talk about what girls in the world are facing today, and how we can all work to make a difference. How did the idea for I AM …

My Modi – The Analysis of an Affectionate Activist

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a special man. It is not just that he happens to lead the largest democracy on planet, or that he recently won his position in a landslide victory that brought 814.5 million people to the polls, 23.1 million of those people being youth (yes… formidable numbers indeed!) but it is the enigma that draws one’s attention to him immediately because with him grows the notion of the ‘Great Indian Dream.’ I watched, with millions of citizens in my country and around the world as he descended upon the United States of America earlier this year. I was both curious and eager to see what he would have to say to an international audience. India is at the cusp of its potential. We have committed to the narrative to all those who are willing to listen that India is ready to play the role of a global game changer in the market place for sustainable development and an emerging performer in the new world order. During Modi’s trip to New York, …

Nowhere in the World is Safe for Women

Violence against women is a vice that has continued to be a serious global health and human rights issue. It touches millions of women and girls in every community in every part of the world. Up to 70 percent of women and girls experience violence in their lifetime. Violence against women is not confined to a specific culture, region, country, or socioeconomic group. Rather, its roots lie in persistent discrimination against women. “I still remember that day like it happened few minutes ago. There I was, bleeding, crying, confused and shaking. Yes I had just been raped by my uncle who had lived with us for over 5 years. I felt useless, miserable and was sure I was never going to heal from this. All I wanted was to die or sleep and never wake up.” – Phyllis Nekesa 15 years old. Although violence against women takes many forms (i.e. violence by an intimate partner, sexual violence, sexual violence in conflict, violence and HIV/AIDS, female genital mutilation/cutting, dowry murder, “honor killing,” human trafficking, violence during …

Where have all the girls gone?

In June, Gloria Steinem noted that this is the first time we’ve had fewer females in the world than males. And it’s because of the pandemic of violence against women and girls. The symptoms of this plague take different forms across countries and cultures. While Asia is known for female infanticide, which is the selective abortion of female fetuses and the killing of newborn girls, the practice takes place in many African communities. Honor killings occur throughout the Middle East and intimate partner violence take the lives of women and girls throughout the globe, including in the United States and Europe. The United Nations Population Fund notes that pregnancy and childbirth together are the leading cause of death of adolescents in lower income countries – and that the overwhelming majority of these pregnancies occur within the context of early and forced marriage. When we aren’t killing the female percentage (we can’t accurately say female half) of the population, we are still enacting heinous forms of violence against their bodies, minds and spirits. According to the World …

10 Reasons To Be Thankful This Holiday Season

When reporting news of gender equality (or lack thereof), global media outlets typically focus on the negatives. This holiday season, let’s take a moment, celebrate the positives, and be thankful for forward progress. 1. Outspoken feminist celebrities like Beyoncé, Emma Watson, Amy Poehler, and Taylor Swift have helped mainstream the public conversation around gender inequities. 2. Since 1990, annual maternal deaths have declined by almost one half and the deaths of young children have declined from 12 million to 7.6 million in 2010. 3. Lammily (a.k.a. Normal Barbie) is challenging beauty norms and empowering young girls to embrace their individuality. 4. Street harassment is no longer an ignored injustice. 5. Malala won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, proving once again that she is a BOSS. 6. Millennials are closing the wage gap between men and women.  7. Women know how to give incredible TED talks. 8. Women around the world joined together to protest and raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses. 9. Elsa and Anna shattered the typical damsel-in-distress female stereotypes (not to mention box office records) in Disney’s …

Mental health and women’s health: Eyeing the ‘treatment gap’

Originally published on Devex Mental health has attracted little attention considering the huge size of the problem. Ranging from mild depression to major psychosis, it is estimated that one in four people suffer from a mental illness, and estimates from the World Health Organization state that around 400-500 million people worldwide are affected. Among sufferers, many go undiagnosed and untreated. In developed countries, the “treatment gap” can be as high as 50 percent, while in developing countries it can skyrocket to 90 percent. The dearth of medical attention can be traced to a lack of awareness, a fear of the stigma attached to mental illness, or barriers to treatment such as access or finances. Within these astonishing figures, another little-discussed fact is that women are at greater risk for certain mental health issues. Partly attributed to biological factors, but also partly because of sociocultural factors — including a lower social status than men and different cultural expectations — women suffer from a higher risk of anxiety, depression and eating disorders. In addition, women are at risk …

Today, I was called a ****: The Harsh Reality of ‘Cat Calling’

Note to Readers: This blog contains slang for female genitalia often used as a term of abuse. “Hey, hey sweet lips….HEY SWEET LIPS.” Head down. Don’t engage. Walk faster. “Hey sweet lips, come on over here.” “Man, she ain’t no sweet lips. That’s just a white c**t.” Jolt of anger. Heightened awareness. Pulse rising. Don’t engage. Walk faster. While the victim-shamers may ask what I was wearing or how I was walking (because that should matter?!), let the record show that I was walking down a typical busy street to a friend’s house in Brooklyn. An evening to catch up with a friend was very quickly taken over by a complete loss of safe personal space as a woman. Does this happen often? Yes. Does this only happen to me? You’re kidding, right? As a growing number of advocates are realizing the prevalence of street harassment, women are slowly gaining momentum to and the courage to start what I can only hope will be a movement. Young people like Caroline Tomkins are speaking out in New York City and …