Photo: Women in Nepal, one of the countries that will be part of Oxfam Canada’s new 5-year program that will take action on violence against women.
by Laura Haylock, Women’s Rights Knowledge Specialist at Oxfam Canada, and Caroline Marrs, Director of International Programs at Oxfam Canada
In 2015, we have all wondered how violence against women and girls continues to be so prevalent – whether in our own neighborhoods or around the world. What we do know is that the underlying beliefs about what are ‘appropriate’ roles for men and women often perpetuate a culture of violence – making negative gender norms a key root cause of violence against women and girls. Oxfam’s past experience and emerging evidence in anti-violence programming suggests that initiatives designed to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) and gender based violence (GBV) are more effective and sustainable when they address negative gender norms.
That is why we are excited to launch a new 5-year program, “Creating Spaces to Take Action on Violence against Women and Girls,” in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada, in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines
The Creating Spaces program will:
- Increase access to services for survivors of violence and their families.These essential services both respond to violence and prevent it from reoccurring;
- Support women’s economic empowerment through skills-building, entrepreneurship training and mentorship with local businesses; and
- Encourage women, men, and youth to take leadership on changing unequal – and damaging – gender norms.
This program is about having much needed, honest conversations about the social norms that place greater value and worth on men and boys, and that all too often are used to rationalize violence. Traditional, religious and political leaders, along with women, men and youth in their communities, will act as champions of change. Together these communities will work to decrease the social acceptability of violence, and model positive behaviours within the social spheres in which they are most influential.
Oxfam is proud to partner with local women’s rights organizations to create space and take action to end violence against women and girls. In our work around the world and in Canada, we are sadly aware that women’s rights organizations are chronically underfunded, struggling to continue the vital work they do.
Oxfam Canada believes that the end of poverty begins with women’s rights, and we are thrilled to be supported by Canadians from coast to coast to coast in this vital work. Our new program will support women and girls, who are held back by gender discrimination and who are at risk of experiencing violence, to advance their human rights and to enjoy their fundamental freedoms.
Over the next five years we will be calling on Canadians to raise their voices about these issues, to make positive change in their own communities and to join us in supporting grassroots women’s organizations around the world. It is not a small mountain to climb, but with courageous women and men at our sides, we are sure to make big steps forward in addressing the fundamental injustice of violence against women.