It is Our Time to End Gender Based Violence

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the security of person,” states the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. We have yet to fully acknowledge this right 65 years later, but 16 days are soon approaching that advocate for the end of one human rights abuse that is severely depressing our attainment of the UDHR and, of course, individual and global potential. That abuse is violence against women.

Up to 70% of women still experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lives, according to the World Health Organization. In South Kivu, it is estimated that 40 women are raped in the region every day. In Liberia, a government survey in 10 counties in 2005-2006 showed that 92% of the 1,600 women interviewed had experienced sexual violence, including rape.

There is something to be done. As members of a world population that has an unprecedented opportunity to reach across borders and work together, we have the responsibility to act, locally, nationally and internationally. We have the people power. Now, we need the will. The 16 Days Against Gender Violence Campaign offers the perfect chance to muster yours.

November 25 marks the beginning of the 16 Days Against Gender Violence campaign. These days are dedicated to conversations, events, and reflections on the end of gender-based violence through holding governments accountable and challenging social structures that inhibit women’s rights. It is our chance to stand up and act to create a more prosperous and equal world. We owe it to our fellow human beings, and ourselves.

Violence against women happens across the sea and at home. I met young girls in India who were recovering post sexual abuse and had started their own paper making business. I have met women in the U.S. who escaped years of domestic abuse to start an organization to help other abused women. Women and girls have an incredible ability to recover and grow, even after enduring the horrifying. In the US, we can improve our culture that still objectifies women and undervalues our contributions. By doing so here, we are making a global statement.

Women have the right to life, liberty, and security of person. Former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norwary said, “Why is it so important to promote and safeguard gender equality? It is a matter of human rights. It is a matter of democracy. Also, it is pure common sense.”

On December 3 at 7 pm, the Iowa United Nations Association, University of Iowa Women’s Health, and Women’s Resource and Action Center are hosting a night of performances called “Voices End Violence” at the Mill. There will be a $3 cover at the entrance, and all proceeds will be donated to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women and the Women’s Resource and Action Center here in Iowa City.

The end to gender based violence is pure common sense, and an enormous leap towards reaching our global potential.