The promotion of gender equality is an important part in the prevention of violence against women according to the World Health Organisation. However, violence against women’s programmes must engage males and females. Evidence show that schemes that empower women without engaging with men, may actually cause conflict between partners, especially in societies with rigid gender roles.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, an international campaign to end gender-based violence, revealed that although violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights abuses in the world, it is severely under-reported, particularly in the developing world. Not only in Africa, social attitudes often condone violence against women, and stigmatize and blame the survivor. Survivors are ostracized from their families and communities, and in some situations, forced to marry their abusers.
However, the problem of violence against women is global. According to the United Nations, worldwide one out of three women is be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries. Violence against women reduces women’s and girls’ contributions to economic development and traps them in a life of poverty. Therewith, violence is a root cause for women’s and girls’ disempowerment and marginalization.
Humanitarian organizations such as CARE are working with local groups and communities to find solutions to the root causes of violence. They are challenging community norms that devalue women, building and supporting community structures, delivering services to survivors, and advocating for policy changes that support gender equality. By empowering women and girls through increased access to quality comprehensive health services, education and other community-based services and resources, as well as educating men and boys to respect and value their female counterparts, entire communities can begin to break the cycle of violence.