What you need to know:
Good and impactful as those initiatives have been, there are still a number of “vices’’ in our societies that denigrate and disempower women, one of which is Gender-Based Violence, abbreviated as GBV
You, like many in our society, have probably heard of initiatives like affirmative action for women, women emancipation, among others aimed at empowering women/girls and bridging gender gaps in our communities.
Good and impactful as those initiatives have been, there are still a number of “vices’’ in our societies that denigrate and disempower women, one of which is Gender-Based Violence, abbreviated as GBV.
Violence against women is perpetuated in homes, in public and private spaces, in work and office spaces and also on online platforms over the internet. Statistically, its estimated that 1 in 3 women globally, have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by either their intimate partners, or non-partner or both at least once in their life.
Closer home here in Uganda, its estimated that 56 percent of married women aged 15-49 have suffered physical and/or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partners (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2021).
One may doubt the figures but how about those women and girls that are subjected to psychological, verbal (hate speech) and social-economic violence? How about the so many who suffer in silence because of the stigma associated with the violence they are subjected to, no one knows the figures, but believe you me they are so many.
Gender-based violence is a daily threat for all women and girls, because of factors like economic insecurity, limited social protection, weak enforcement of laws, and the chauvinism still embedded in our societies which make women vulnerable.
The adverse effects of GBV are multifaceted, ranging from social to economic predicaments. Violence degrades women’s health (physical & mental), and social well-being. It impedes their social responsibilities, professional development and economic progress. At a community level, violence destroys families (which are the fabric of society), it drags down the level of economic activity (women usually do economic activities like agriculture, trade among others).
It’s no brainer that there is more harm than good the GBV does to our communities and you will agree to the fact that ultimately, GBV stifles the comprehensive development of society.
Given its dire implications, it’s no doubt that we need to buttress strides made to eliminate GBV. The 16- days of Activism, from 25 November to 10 December every year, avail us such an opportunity. Eliminating GBV is not the sole responsibility of the government, neither is it for only female leaning organizations. It’s not a responsibility of only feminists or human rights activists. It’s a collective responsibility we all ought to embrace in the different spaces we find ourselves in.
What are you doing today or in the 16-days of Activism to create a world that is free from violence towards our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, wives, female friends, and neighbors.
To buttress the strides towards eliminating violence against women, lets;
Increase funding for initiatives that are aimed at combating GBV. Some programs to fight GBV are not being implemented because of limited finances. Let’s contribute more to activities meant to alleviate GBV.
Empower and equip the various stakeholders and actors fighting GBV, for instance the family and child unit of police, the various civil societies whose objective is to eliminate GBV, and support and ease their work.
Scale up sensitization programs. A number of people in our communities are oblivious of the adverse effects of GBV. Let’s enlighten them.
Scale up the effective implementation of economic empowerment initiatives at grass root levels. Economic hardship is a catalyst of GBV. Let’s effectively implement and support economic empowerment initiatives,
Create safer working zones. Employers ought to create and implement policies that combat GBV in offices, like Sexual Harassment Policies etc.
Despite the various existing initiatives, laws and regulations meant to combat the vice of Gender Based Violence (GBV), women in our communities are still being haunted by its ghosts. From a broader point of view, GBV impedes the social-economic development of our communities as it degrades the health of women, and also forestalls their economic progress. Combating GBV is a collective responsibility we all ought to embrace and champion in our respective spaces. So, let’s buttress the strides aimed at eliminating GBV in our societies.
Otelu Joel Omiat