Foreign Policy Blogs

Making Progress to Curb Violence Against Women and Girls

A demonstrator holds a placard during the one-month anniversary of the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi Photo: RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images

Millions of women and young girls across the globe continue to be denied their rights to equal and fair access to education and healthcare and many are faced with gender-based violence such a female genital mutilation (FGM)/female circumcision, child marriage, child trafficking, honor killings, female infantcide, domestic violence and other gender inequality and sexually-based human rights abuses every day.

On Monday, March 4, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) convened in New York at the United Nations Headquarters where they will seek to create sustainable solutions to “all forms of violence against women and girls.”  The gathering which will take place from March 4 through March 15 will bring together some 6,000 civil society leaders from across the globe to address ways to eliminate violence against women and girls, said Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director of UNWomen in a recent podcast with the Guardian‘s Liz Ford.  Approximately one-third of the delegates come from grass-roots organizations, a fact Puri  stresses the importance of in the interview, saying that “what is accepted here globally by member states will be implemented at the regional level, national level and at the local level.”  The key to sustainable development practices and gender equality must be implemented in a palatable form at all levels, especially that of the local level.

The issue of gender equality and seeking an end to gender-based violence is far from new; however, a number of high-profile incidents of rape and murder of women and girls have recently found themselves making international headlines, including:

This makes it even more clear that efforts to increase the safety of women and girls and seek gender equality must be taken and new measures put into place.

The convening of the CSW’s first week will culminate with the celebration of International Women’s Day on Friday, March 8 — a day which was established to commemorate the struggle that women and girls across the globe have endured in order to obtain their “full” human rights.  This year’s theme for International Women’s Day as set by the UN is “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.”

In her message for International Women’s Day, U.N. Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet called upon the international community to not stand idle on the commitments they have made to invest in women and end gender inequality and violence, but to deliver on their promises and ensure that they protect women’s rights to see that all women and girls are enabled to live in a world free of violence.

“Discrimination and violence against women and girls has no place in the 21st century. It is time for Governments to keep their promises and protect human rights in line with the international conventions and agreements that they signed onto. A promise is a promise,” she said.

Passing legislation and laws, holding international forums, creating awareness — these are all necessary pieces to the larger puzzle that will form the key to end gender discrimination and violence once and for all. But they are worthless alone and will only unlock freedom and peace for all women if action is taken to enforce these laws and sustainable investment is made to empower and educate women.  We have awareness days for many various aspects of gender discrimination and violence; just last month with the One Billion Rising movement, we saw what is now the largest unified global movement taken to end violence against women. But it cannot stand on its own, and it must come from every angle, top to bottom, to say “no” to all forms of gender discrimination and violence.

While many women and girls still struggle, others have set forth to become industry and world leaders and it is these female leaders that will pave the way forward for the those who still struggle to achieve their full and equal rights. The role of women and girls in all aspects of society is vital to a sustainable and peaceful global community. Celebrate women and girls, empower them and they will lead us towards a better tomorrow!

To see events around the globe celebrating International Women’s Day, click here.

 

Author

Cassandra Clifford
Cassandra Clifford

Cassandra Clifford is the Founder and Executive Director of Bridge to Freedom Foundation, which works to enhance and improve the services and opportunities available to survivors of modern slavery. She holds an M.A., International Relations from Dublin City University in Ireland, as well as a B.A., Marketing and A.S., Fashion Merchandise/Marketing from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cassandra has previously worked in both the corporate and charity sector for various industries and causes, including; Child Trafficking, Learning Disabilities, Publishing, Marketing, Public Relations and Fashion. Currently Cassandra is conducting independent research on the use of rape as a weapon of war, as well as America’s Pimp Culture and its Impact on Modern Slavery. In addition to her many purists Cassandra is also working to develop a series of children’s books.

Cassandra currently resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where she also writes for the Examiner, as the DC Human Rights Examiner, and serves as an active leadership member of DC Stop Modern Slavery.


Areas of Focus:
Children's Rights; Human Rights; Conflict

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