A global pandemic
Violence against women is now a global pandemic, according to the United Nations. The UN Women's Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) unit reports that between 15 and 76 per cent of women experience violence at some point in their lifetime. (1)
Violence against women - how do we measure up?
The survey Violence against Women Prevalence Data is a country-by-country comparison of rates of violence against women across the globe, compiled by UN Women, measuring rates of both intimate partner violence and combined intimate partner/non-intimate partner violence.
- Here in Australia, more than 1 in 4 (27%) women will have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in her lifetime
- Georgia had the lowest recorded level of intimate partner VAW (where that data was available) at 5% of women experiencing it across their lifetime, while
- In Ethiopia, up to 70.9% - over two thirds - of women experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner. (3)
Rates of VAW are still shockingly high, even in many democratic Western countries with relatively high gender equality (although, as the Investing in Gender Equality study shows, improved gender equality measures are invaluable in lowering rates of VAW). Read the full report here
Respect + autonomy + participation = freedom from violence
The analysis Investing in Gender Equality: Ending Violence against Women emphasises the importance of gender equality, women's participation in leadership and women's reproductive and economic freedom in lowering levels of violence against women. The main findings of the report are that:
- As gender equality improves, the prevalence of violence against women is lowered
- Women’s economic security is central to efforts to ending violence against women
- Increasing the political participation of women advances laws and policies to address gender-based violence
- Educating girls, especially through secondary and higher education, can help reduce violence against women — and delivers multiple returns to national social and economic development, and
- When women have decision-making control over their bodies and sexual and reproductive lives, they are better poised to protect themselves from abusive relationships. (2)
While the global rates of violence against women remain at epidemic proportions, studies such as these prove the work of women's rights activists, advocates and anti-domestic violence campaigners to be so incredibly vital in the work of eliminating violence against women. It's also a sobering reminder that, far from the all-too-common belief that 'feminism has gone too far', we still have a long way to go to ensure that all women are free from violence inflicted against them simply because they are women. Read the full report here
We're all in this together - local responses to a global problem
To take action to help end violence against women, and join a global community of activists committed to a world in which women are free from violence everywhere, visit the UN's new-look action website, UNiTE to end violence against women today!
(1) Investing in Gender Equality: Ending Violence against Women (UN Women, 2011) (2) Investing in Gender Equality: Ending Violence against Women (UN Women, 2011) (3) Violence against Women Prevalence Data (UN Women, 2011)
Photo from Flickr by Angela7dreams (Creative Commons licence)