By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver
Today is Blog Action Day, bringing together bloggers from different countries, interests and languages together to talk about one important global issue. This year’s topic is human rights, one which is at the core of sexual and reproductive health and rights. At Women Deliver, we firmly believe that what we call “women’s issues” are issues that matter to all humans, and that girls’ and women’s rights should be advocated for as human rights.
This past year held several critical milestones for girls’ and women’s rights, including the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act by the United States Congress in February. This version of the law contains new provisions extending protections to Native American and Alaskan women, immigrant women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender survivors of violence. Just this past week, on the International Day of the Girl, the Girl Declaration presented to the United Nations called for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against girls worldwide.
The Girl Declaration is especially powerful because it was developed by girls themselves, reflecting their personal fears and hopes. One girl wrote, “Why are girls raped? I want to make it so that all girls are safe and so that it’s not a regular thing when a girl is hit by someone, anyone, or is touched or cornered or taken away.” Another girl noted, “Every boy should think of a girl like his own sister, then they won’t commit crimes against her.”
Ending gender-based violence falls under the category of safety within the Girl Declaration, yet it directly impacts every other goal area: education, health, economic security and citizenship. For a girl to be educated, healthy, economically secure, and a fully participating citizen, she needs to be free from violence.
From Stuebenville, Ohio in the United States to Uttar Pradesh in Northern India, horrific sexual assaults have made headline news. These are only the stories we read about—on average, 35% of women worldwide experience either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Available statistics only represent the tip of the iceberg, as stigma, shame, and threats often prevent survivors of violence from reporting their assaults.
On this Blog Action Day, we call for an end to gender-based violence as a key global priority for all people. The girls of today have spoken—they want a world free from violence, so that they can attend school, access essential health services, and advocate for their rights.
The needs and perspectives of girls were left out of the original Millennium Development Goals. Together, we can raise our voices in support of a new development framework that prioritizes girls and women, that guarantees their rights as human rights, and that considers every person as deserving a life free from violence.