Washington, D.C.—USAID will join the global community in observance of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence from November 25th through December 10th, 2009. Beginning on the International Day of Eliminating Violence Against Women and ending on International Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism is an international campaign that advocates for greater prevention efforts to end gender-based violence. The theme of this year’s campaign is Commit, Act, Demand: We CAN End Violence Against Women.
Gender-based violence is a pervasive public health and human rights issue. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused. Physical violence has serious consequences for an individual’s physical and mental health and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Gender-based violence inhibits progression towards solving a number of other global health priorities such as effective use of family planning and preventing the transmission of HIV. A woman who cannot negotiate the use of a condom with her partner due to threat of violence is at risk for HIV and unplanned pregnancies.
As one of global health’s largest contributors, USAID and its partners are committed to ensuring this basic human right does not inhibit development efforts. USAID works to create in country networks of healthcare facilities, NGOs, social service centers, legal institutions, and educational systems which act as support systems for victims of violence. These networks work to end practices that harm women, compromise their health, and interfere with access to education and advancement of equal status and rights. They also provide victims the comprehensive support services they need to recover and rebuild their lives. Through creative behavior change communication activities, attention is brought to the roles and behaviors that contribute to the culture of violence.
With the help of USAID, countries have developed key legislation to address issues of gender based violence such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, and trafficking in persons. These efforts have not only improved the health of women and girls, they have enabled victims to become advocates for change.
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