Safe Spaces for Women

Judyannet M
Posted December 14, 2015 from Kenya

The world recently marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women with 16 Days of Activism during which people hosted events and spoke out against Gender-based Violence. This day couldn't have come at a better time, just a month after world leaders committed to making the world a better place by adopting the Global Goals. To effectively realize these goals, every member of the society is required to put in efforts at their local community. This means that safe spaces are important for people to work in, especially women. Thus Violence against Women is a problem that should be given serious attention. A safe environment means that women can work and realize their full potential without the fear of violence.

We need to consider a few things as the world strives towards a safe environment for women in the coming year. Violence against Women is a common occurrence at the society and efforts to curb it should not only be confined to one day. Though November 25th is officially recognized as the day to mark the elimination of Violence against Women, the world needs to keep the momentum of the call to end this problem going. Community organizations working at the community with victims of violence should speak out and let their advocacy messages be amplified on different platforms. Organizations working at the policy level should reach out to the community workers and form meaningful partnerships.

We should also create awareness in the community on Violence against Women and the forms in which it is manifested and what actions to take in case somebody is a victim. This is best done with cultural sensitivity seeing that some cultures have different beliefs and customs surrounding the relationship between men and women. To avoid conflicts or resistance from the community, advocates working to create awareness in such communities should reach out to community elders and together they can devise ways through which to communicate these messages of advocacy. Further, while creating awareness focus should also be on the adolescents and the young adults. By reaching out to these groups of people at a young age, we ensure that they don’t learn behaviours that they will need to unlearn when they get into adulthood; let’s stop the culture of violence before it happens.

The face of gender-based violence has also changed over time to include men not only as perpetrators but also as victims. This is why intervention programs must take this into account; new ways of responding to instances of gender-based violence should be adjusted accordingly. It is also important to involve men in the fight to eliminate Violence against Women. Any problem, including gender inequality at the society can only be effectively addressed by collaborative efforts between women and men in such programs as this.

Emerging forms of Violence against Women such as harassment of women on digital spaces must also be addressed with the urgency of now. Women who are empowered through technology are at the heart of development but if they can’t use the digital spaces safely then there is a problem. Safe spaces include online social media where women connect with each other and share information and other resources that contribute to their social and economic development. Harassment in these spaces hinders the full participation of women through the use of technology. Intervention efforts must also be directed towards digital harassment of women.

Finally, it is important for people to speak up especially in instances of violence in the community that go unreported due to various reasons. We should all take a personal responsibility and be proactive in reporting and guiding victims towards organizations that deal with cases of violence. Most importantly, we should speak out to ensure that no human being is subjected to violence.

Comments 5

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amymorros
Dec 17, 2015
Dec 17, 2015

Thank you for your thoughts on the prevention of violence against women. Yes, women need to feel safe online and World Pulse is a great example of a safe community. I do like your emphasis on finding new ways of responsing to gender-based violence and adjusting accordingly. So often what we think will work on paper turns out not to work so well in the field. I am glad that you are focused on helping these woman and men through sensitive and sympathetic interventions. 

Judyannet M
Dec 19, 2015
Dec 19, 2015

Hello Amy, thank you for reading and responding. Together we can make spaces including digital spaces safe for women.

My best,

Tamarack Verrall
Dec 19, 2015
Dec 19, 2015

Dear Judy,

This is a beautifully written piece, with a whole lot of wise guidance tucked in, that is very useful for anyone working in their communities to end violence against women. I agree wholeheartedly that it is of great importance that we keep the momentum strong by continuing to speak out with the stories of what we have experienced, and what we know. I also agree that it is imperative that women are safe at work places, as well as on line. Your idea that there can be a strong safety net by women on line being connected to women's groups online, opened up for me the thought of how different it would be for some young women I am aware of who have been horribly harrassed online, if they had known how to reach out both online and off, to organisations of women who could have better supported them. Your mention of abuse suffered by men is important too, and I am hopeful to find more and more men willing to create safe environments for men and boys to talk about violence they too have suffered, and about what they can do to end disrespect for and violence against women. Your suggestions  that those forming policy and those in community need to have close connections, and that approaching elders first to form a plan and introduce it together, are both wise and great advice. Thanks for such a thoughtful and helpful article.

In sisterhood,

Tam

Judyannet M
Dec 19, 2015
Dec 19, 2015

Tam, Thank you for your kind words. Indeed we all know of cases of women who have faced harassment online and offline and it is important as you mention to speak up constantly against this vice. Together we can make sure that Gender Based Violence is eliminated. Thank you, Judyannet.

PilarAlbisu
Dec 21, 2015
Dec 21, 2015

Dear Judy,

First of all, I want to thank you for such a wonderfully written piece. It was insighful and eloquent. I agree with all of your points on the steps that we as a society should take to help eradicate violence against women. Truly, it is a collective task, and it is only through continued work and collaboration will we be able to truly put a stop to sexual violence. I really like the point that you made when you suggested that we begin reaching out to people at a younger age. Your viewpoint that "we ensure that they don’t learn behaviours that they will need to unlearn when they get into adulthood [...] stop the culture of violence before it happens," really resonated with me. It is so true that education should start as early as possible to try and cut the problem at its root. I have faith that things on this frontier will only get better, and my faith is due to people like you and networks such as World Pulse. It gives me hope that there are poeple out there who care deeply about these issues and who will do everything in their power to make sure that gender-based violence becomes a thing of the past.

Thank you again for your words!

Wishing you all the best,

Pilar