Key to Europe

By Juliette Beaulaton and Cristina Cumbreño

Feminicide, domestic violence, sexual and economic exploitation, assault, harassment, rape, mutilation, forced marriage… The reality of violence against women and girls is multiform and occurs continuously and systematically in our society. It remains one of the most serious and widespread form of human rights violations.

Gender inequality and discrimination are root causes of violence against women, influenced by the historical and structural power imbalances between gender. This violence also crucially impedes empowerment and adds tremendous challenges to the emancipation of women and girls worldwide. Governments, International institutions, and also ourselves as citizens have a duty to act to put an end to this vicious circle of violence and discrimination.

2017 is being portrayed as the year women joined forces and made their voices heard, from the Women’s March and solidarity marches all over the world in January, to the massive online campaign #MeToo exposing the extent of sexual harassment and violence against women and girls. We need to build upon this momentum, and most importantly, carry the voices of women and girls who are being silenced.

This year’s United Nations’s campaign UNITE chose, as call of action for the annual 16 days of activism against Gender Violence, to carry the message “Leave No One behind: end Violence against Women and Girls”. It commits to a “world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, while reaching the most underserved and marginalized, including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters, amongst others, first.

We will never eliminate violence against women and girls if we do not take adequately into account the multiple forms of violence that exists and the diversity of women affected by this phenomenon. Certain women face greater risk of violence because of other forms of discrimination than sexism, such as xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia or discrimination based on age, disability, ethnicity or religion. Moreover, these intersecting forms of discrimination get in the way of women and girls trying to access medical support, protection or justice.

AEGEE is committed to participate in eliminating violence against women and girls, while keeping in mind this intersectional approach. Firstly, we aim at providing our members a discussion platform to address those issues and raise awareness about topics related to Gender Equality through our Gender Equality Interest Group. Secondly, AEGEE decided to make Equal Rights one of its Focus Area, to ensure that part of our activities and advocacy is dedicated to tackling discrimination based on gender identity, expression and sexual orientation and promoting equity from an intersectional perspective.

Going forward

We call upon Governments to honor their international engagements, particularly the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women and domestic violence and their commitment to achieve Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals

We call upon decision-makers to ensure that policy making and implementation, as well as budgets are designed to benefit all women and girls, taking into account the variety of ways violence is experienced.

We call upon citizens to continue challenge gender stereotypes and normalized manifestation of violence against women and girls. Part of the solution lies in everyday actions, whether it is through defending a women being physically or verbally abused in the street, speaking out against sexist comments and behaviors at work, listening to the stories and supporting victims, and many more small but extremely important actions. The more we learn about the reality of violence against women and girls, the root causes and everyday manifestations of this phenomenon, the better equipped we become to fight back.

Support the movement online, through the European and UN campaign, and in the street on 25 November !

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