Working for a Fairer World

22nd November 2018

Sunday 25 November is designated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls by the United Nations. As part of their awareness-raising, the campaign will run for 16 days until Monday 10 December, which is Human Rights Day. ADRA-UK works with communities around the world and in its wide humanitarian work it helps to reduce the incidents of gender-based violence through a variety of projects. Milimo Ninvalle, Senior Programmes Officer, at ADRA-UK, who has managed several of these projects, talks to BUC News ahead of Sunday's launch:

The World Bank's 2018 brief on Gender Based Violence (Violence Against Women and Girls) reports "Gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime." 

35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. Globally, 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner. Globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.

ADRA-UK has zero tolerance towards acts of GBV but also recognises the complexities that surround situations where GBV can arise. Throughout our work, ADRA-UK staff have met women who testify to the end of GBV in their household. ADRA-UK have brought projects to communities which focus on the economic empowerment and resilience of community members. Such projects have resulted in an indirect address of GBV which we label as 'unintended outcomes'. Often, we are not aware of the levels of GBV in a community due to stigma, until there has been a change in behaviour and women feel bold enough to share. Our experience allows us to share some of our learning with you.

Poverty is a large contributor to GBV. In communities where there is limited employment opportunities or bleak prospects outside of poverty, the pressure felt by men who are failing to provide for their families spills over into the marriage. Women and girls can find themselves at the end of their loved-one's frustrations. In some situations where women have been able to work and contribute an income, they have reported the removal of GBV. Some due to their husbands no longer beating them, others because they achieved economic freedom and left. In Rwanda ADRA-UK provided education and business skills to women. Many reported post course, harmony in their homes, being included in decisions taken within the household and having access to family land. 

Wars, conflict and/or national emergencies is a contributor to GBV. The sudden shift away from the everyday life creates pressure on a household living in a fragile context. In pre-earthquake Nepal, men who drank large quantities of alcohol were culprits of performing GBV. It was found when less alcohol was consumed, men were engaged in economic activities and had the opportunity to earn a decent income for their household. Post-earthquake, ADRA-UK provided food, shelter and other essential items to communities most hit. When visiting the communities 1 year on, the numbers in GBV had risen sharply. Women reported the pressure of several families and neighbours living together under 1 tarp (small tent) causes sexual frustration which leads to GBV within marriage and also rape between family members and neighbours. In such cases, addressing GBV was a challenge. 

Lack of knowledge is a contributor to GBV. A husband's learnt behaviour stemmed from cultural practices which can be severely harmful to women, risking their lives. In cultures where women are viewed as subjects and property, the conditions are set for high levels of GBV. In Zimbabwe, ADRA-UK improved the clinic facilities, so women could give birth safely. A men's chapter forum was used to address some of the cultural stigma amongst men. Women were concerned to leave their husbands at home and stay separately at the clinic for 2 weeks before birth, to avoid a heightened GBV situation or the placement of a new wife on return. The men's forum helped to bring harmony within the household to prevent a man's resentment and abuse towards his wife's temporary absence. 

ADRA-UK's approaches are but a drop in the ocean of eradicating GBV but still a required contribution. We continue to do our part to build households, communities, societies and countries by tackling community issues one piece at a time. We celebrate with the world, the campaign to reduce GBV but also reflect on the many women ADRA-UK has yet to reach. If you wish to know more about ADRA's work, please visit our website, www.adra.org.uk.

[Milimo Ninvalle Senior Programmes Officer, ADRA-UK]


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