Prevention was the central theme of the 2015 UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign. From the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to Human Rights (November 25 – December 10), UNiTE called on people worldwide to “orange the world” for a brighter future without violence.
At the campaign’s official commemoration in New York, the United Nations (U.N.) presented the very first U.N. Framework on Preventing Violence Against Women. The document recognizes violence against women as not only a public health concern but also a breach of basic human rights. Women, according to the document, have a right to “physical integrity, agency, and autonomy”. These rights, according to the framework, lay at the crux of prevention efforts.
The proposed framework outlines a multi-level approach, discussing methods to prevent violence before it occurs, the recurrence of violence and the negative repercussions of violence against women. Perhaps most importantly, the document recognizes intervention must be informed by the particular social structure, culture and norms of a given setting.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 35 percent of women across the globe have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence against women has also been shown to increase the likelihood for homelessness, unemployment and depression.
Orange the World was in line with goal five of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched this past September, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. The campaign also linked up specifically with target two, which seeks “[to eliminate] all forms of violence against women and girls” by 2030.
Prevention of violence against women may also be vital to the attainment of other SDGs. WHO, for instance, cites lower levels of education as a risk factor connected to sexual violence perpetration. Achieving goal four of the SDGs, which looks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education”, could alleviate this risk.
Addressing violence against women is also necessary to the fight against poverty, the World Bank said. Ede Ijjasz -Velasquez, Senior Director at the World Bank, said violence against women “has very important economic consequences” that could negatively impact any given nation.
Geraldine Terry, a research associate at the University of East Anglia, also found “[poverty] and violence against women interact in complex cycles of causality.” Poverty can lead to violence against women, and violence against women can also play a causal role in poverty.
Over 70 countries participated in Orange the World. Major world landmarks such as Niagara Falls (Ontario, Canada/New York) and the Palais de Justice (the Democratic Republic of the Congo) were lit up in orange to honor the campaign.
– Jocelyn Lim
Sources: U.N. Women, Geraldine Terry, “Poverty reduction and violence against women: exploring links, assessing impacts,” , U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, U.N. Women 2, World Bank, WHO
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