Violence against women is one of the most tolerated violations of human rights that exists in the world today

Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic. Though some societies have made more progress than others, we must all work together to end it.” Baroness Northover, Permanent Under Secretary of State for International Development.

This week the world recognised Human Rights Day, a date enshrined by the UN General Assembly 24 years ago to bring to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For the past 15 years Human Rights Day has also marked the end of 16 days of activism to end gender based violence which begins each year on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. If anyone is still in doubt that such a dedicated period of global attention on this issue is necessary, they need only consider the stats;

  • On average, around the world at least one in three women is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused by an intimate partner in the course of her lifetime
  • Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria
  • Several global surveys suggest that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands or partners

Across the globe, politicians, organisations, charities and individuals seized this period as an opportunity to galvanise action against what Rachel Jewkes, Director of the What Works to Prevent Violence Global Programme calls “the most tolerated violation of human rights that exists in the world today”. The UN called for neighbourhoods across the world to turn orange as a symbol of hope for a brighter future for all women in a world without violence eliciting an extraordinary global response, from gigantic orange anti-violence messages flashed across the enormous Reuters and NASDAQ screens in Times Square, to the haunting sight of Egypt’s Pyramids and Sphinx bathed in orange light.

This year has extra significance in that it looks forward to 2015, which will mark 20 years since the groundbreaking Beijing Platform for Action, where Hillary Clinton is renowned for saying, “human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”

But whilst the 16 Days of Activism are intended to challenge the entrenched gender inequality in most societies and indeed activists campaigned all over the world, what happens now? Violence against women is continuing and it is widespread.

At Ladbury we are proud to be working on the Department for International Development’s flagship £25 million What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Programme, the most extensive and significant global research and innovation programme, to find out what works to prevent violence against women and girls, to build knowledge on which interventions work to strengthen women and girls ability to protect themselves from violence. The research will also provide high quality and rigorous evidence that can be used by civil society organisations, multilateral agencies, governments and academics to develop programmes that will contribute to eliminating gender based violence.

Britain is funding 18 ground breaking research initiatives, selected in conjunction with the Medical Research Council South Africa, that include cutting edge interventions selected from over 800 applicants from across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. From counseling with migrant workers in Nepal, to running peace education programmes with youth in Afghanistan, and holding the first ever independent mass media campaign across the whole of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, over 5.3 million people in 16 countries across the regions will be benefitting from the five year programme, to follow the work and learn about the projects go to:

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