According to the U.N., gender-based violence in Brazil is a major issue. A woman in São Paulo is assaulted every 15 seconds. A group of girls from Maranhão, Brazil hopes to change that. The girls are participating in Plan International’s Girl Leadership Project. Part of the initiative entails getting involved in local government and petitioning congresspeople for change. Eighteen-year-old participant Luanna Natalia spoke her mind on the issue of gender-based violence and discrimination.
“No woman or girl deserves to suffer violence or prejudice just because they’re female,” Natalia said. “We can only achieve equality if we work together to build a better world and a better society in Brazil.”
Gender-based violence is not just a problem in Brazil. It affects women worldwide. According to the U.N., as many as 76% of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetimes. This pandemic undermines the safety, stability and security of all women, not just those personally affected. It also presents a serious issue in terms of global poverty. Women generally make up half a country’s potential workforce. Gender-based violence can:
- Prevent women from working due to illness, injury or fear;
- Increase lost wages, as well as health care, police and legal expenditures;
- Limit women’s access to reproductive health care and family planning, making work difficult after pregnancy;
- Increase the likelihood of miscarriages, stillbirths or abortions;
- Force women to have more children than they’d like (these children may also experience a lower quality of life, putting more strain on a developing country’s already sparse resources).
In order to more actively fight gender-based violence, the U.N. proposed a Millennium Development Goal to promote gender equality and empower women by 2015. In 2015, the U.N. reiterated this sentiment in its Sustainable Development Goals, reflecting the work that still needs to be done by 2030.
Plan International’s Girl Leadership Project represents a promising step toward ending gender-based violence in Brazil and elsewhere. By raising awareness and empowering girls to advocate on behalf of themselves and other women, Plan International and other organizations are working to convince world leaders that the problem of gender-based violence deserves more attention. In the words of Natalia, “If we stand together, it proves we are not in this fight alone.”
– Sabrina Santos