Violence against women has a severely detrimental effect on not only a woman’s sense of self worth, but her family’s well being and the well being of the community as a whole. The issue comes to discussion tables of the world’s leaders this year in the UN security council meeting and in the US Congress in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The world has begun to recognize the need to lift the status of women worldwide and international agencies both governmental and non-governmental have enacted various proposals for the advancement of women worldwide as they have recognized the need to end violence against women.
Preventing violence against women has been a goal for several years and has had some significant advances, though large-scale violence against women is still widespread. The study Ending Violence Against Women: from words to action by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon found that numerous tactics for ending violence against women have been implemented thus far worldwide. This study profiled strategies that worked successfully. Not surprisingly, education tactics were shown to be a highly successful method of reducing or enforcing laws regarding violence against women.
Some examples of successful efforts:
- Educating the public involves challenging discrimination by changing community attitudes. Denmark launched a nation-wide government campaign in 5 languages so that all members of the community could be involved.
- Informing community and religious leaders of negative effects of violence and discrimination against women. In Egypt, local and religious leaders were informed of the adverse effects of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting which was a common practice at the time but is no longer as prevalent.
- Changing Men’s attitudes to end violence against women. The White Ribbon campaign started in Canada in 1991 has developed educational material and action kits aimed at transforming men’s attitudes by distributing them to schools, businesses, and labor unions. The White Ribbon Campaign now spans 47 countries.
- According to a recent Huffington Post article , Women for Women International trained 400 mullahs in Afghanistan to incorporate ideas of women’s rights and women’s value to society in their Friday speeches.
- In the DRC, Women for Women International recruited thousands of men to participate in their training program. At the end, 91 percent of graduates agreed that there are important reasons for a husband to stay with his wife if she has been a victim of violence and 93 percent of participants stated that the program encouraged them to prevent violence against women in the community. In fact, one of the leaders of the militia who was known to command his fights to rape discontinued this policy when he learned about the spread of the HIV virus.
Education is the key to jump-starting efforts to curb violence against women. Through education, Barakat works to curb gender discrimination before it starts! The common denominator in each of these examples of successful efforts at eradicating gender-based violence is education and dissemination of information about the problems associated with violence against women. Barakat’s literacy programs and classes are very much vital to implementing ideas of gender equality and female empowerment because it allows for classroom interaction between boys and girls early on. Providing a co-educational experience can expand people’s minds and bolster their respect and understanding for other individuals, irrespective of their gender, religion or ethnicity. People develop their idea of society and normal community at early stages, so it is important that both boys and girls are given the opportunity to attend school together, increasing the likelihood that gender equality can occur in countries where it is not currently seen today. Barakat’s schools aim to serve both girls and boys so that discrimination does not have a chance to develop.
Not only does Barakat provide literacy courses for participants, but it also provides teacher training for human rights. Barakat believes that good education programs must include ideas of human rights in their curriculum. For lasting peace and female empowerment to be possible, the concept of human rights and consequently women’s rights, must be ingrained in society. Barakat’s learning programs work to make this a reality! In fact, in 2008, Barakat ran a program with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission for teacher training in human rights. The program focused on the current situation of women’s rights, the history of human rights, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and laws for punishment of human rights violators. By weaving ideas of human rights and women’s rights into our courses, Barakat hopes to instill the idea of female empowerment as a vital component to ensuring peace!