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Violence / GCWA partner: Commit, Act, Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women

25 Jan, 2009

Every day, in many homes, women are beaten and abused. Far too many die. Violence against women is not only widespread-it is often fatal. Although the most common form of violence against women is domestic violence, women and girls face abuse and violence at every stage of their life. Violence against women is an extreme manifestation of gender inequality and human rights violation. It is a global problem, deeply ingrained in societies and has serious impacts on women's health and well-being.
The elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls is a top priority for the World YWCA. In nearly 70 countries, YWCAs provide services for women facing violence and abuse. For many women, the YWCA represents a safe space. From shelters and safe houses run by YWCAs in the USA, Canada, Zambia and Sri Lanka to campaigns to prevent trafficking championed by YWCAs in Finland, Belarus, Albania and Samoa. National and local YWCAs around the world are committed to seeing an end to violence against women. Through advocacy and services, YWCAs are working to ensure women and girls in their communities can live lives free of violence. 
Below are four actions that governments, international organisations and civil society can take to end violence against women:

1. Commit to safety and security for women and girls
In addition to carrying out research on the cause of violence, governments must take steps to prevent violence before it starts. A strategic way to prevent violence is to introduce and enforce laws that protect women-there must be no impunity for acts of violence against women. Governments must consider initiatives, such as the YWCA Canada 'Rose Button' campaign, that call for actions to prevent violence before it starts.
One of the first obligations of CEDAW requires UN member states to entrench women's human rights in their constitutional and legal systems. Raising public awareness on laws that protect women is crucial in preventing violence against women. 
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security calls on UN member states to take special measures to protect women and girls from violence, particularly in situations of armed conflict.  Women's bodies must not be used to wage war.

2. Commit to adequate funding to end violence against women
Adequate and accessible funding must be provided for services that provide holistic care for survivors of violence. Women's right to information must be upheld. Lack of information prevents many women from accessing services that would support them to regain dignity in their lives.
Organisations running programmes such as shelters for women in violent relationship, help-lines and counseling facilities must be adequately financed to ensure their services remain reliable and accessible. As Governments consider their strategies to deal with the global financial crisis, funding and support for social services must not be cut or reduced. 

3. Act by partnering with civil society
Programmes such as the YWCA Week Without Violence commemorated annually in November around the world help educate communities on the types of violence women in their country face. A society that understands the impact and effects of violence against women is better versed to address the issues at government and policy level. Education on violence against women must be integrated in programmes that reach different sectors of society including men and boys. Governments must work with civil society to change negative stereotypes as a strategy to prevent violence against women. 
4. Demand greater understanding of the intersectionality of HIV and VAW
Socio-economic factors and legal challenges that put many HIV-positive women at risk of violence must be addressed. The World YWCA is particular concerned about recent laws some countries are adopting that criminalize HIV. These laws have a particular impact on women and leave them vulnerable to violence. Governments, international organisations and civil society must demand that laws and policies that uphold women's human rights are implemented in order to protect women from violence.
During the 16 days of activism to end violence against women, the World YWCA joins with the global community to call for an end to violence against women and ensure women and girls can live lives free of violence.
The World YWCA is a global network of women and young women leading social and economic change in 125 countries. It advocates for peace, justice, human rights and care of the environment, and has been at the forefront of raising the status of women for over a century. The World YWCA develops women's leadership to find local solutions to the global inequalities women face. Each year, it reaches more than 25 million women and girls through work in over 22,000 communities. This grassroots development experience shapes the organisation's global advocacy agenda. The World YWCA work is inspired by Christian principles and a commitment to women's full and equal participation in society. It is a volunteer membership movement inclusive of women from many faiths, backgrounds and cultures.
The World YWCA affirms that women's human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.