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Let’s all UNITE to end violence towards women

4 December 2023

Unite to end VAW 2

16 days of activism is an annual, international campaign to stand up and end violence against women and girls. This year’s theme is UNITE!  

Invest to prevent. It is estimated that one in three women worldwide experience violence at some time – that is around 736 million women and girls.  

Violence can take different forms - emotional, economic, physical, sexual, it can be domestic as well as being used as a weapon of war. In poverty and during times of conflict, humanitarian and climate crises - it gets worse.  

The problem is rooted in structural inequalities, unequal power between men and women, discrimination, and harmful attitudes and practices. Globally, women and girls are less involved in decision-making and have less access to and control of land, property or money. And when things go wrong, it can have a devastating, domino effect.  

Women are exposed to the risk and incidence of violence when just going about their daily lives. When they need to walk long distances alone to fetch water for their family. When they are forced from their homes through conflict or disinheritance.  

SCIAF works with local partners in Eastern DR Congo - a region affected by severe poverty and ongoing conflict. Our work here is complex and sensitive - providing holistic services for survivors of violence, working to tackle the underlying causes of violence and of course advocating for change.   

Men and boys are key in this change. We help train mixed faith leaders and young people in positive masculinity, femininity, equality and leadership to prevent sexual and gender-based violence.  

This week during the 16 days of activism, our local partner OLAME have been working alongside the DRC Ministry of Gender to raise awareness through radio broadcasts, popular theatre and school workshops.

Unite to end VAW 1Where violence does happen, our work in the country aims to support survivors in any way we can. We play a part in recovery by supporting healthcare, psychological services, self-help groups and by training health and legal professionals and providing legal aid. 

Groups are an invaluable recovery, solidarity and income-generating source where survivors can benefit from trauma counselling and learn profitable skills such as soap making or goat rearing.

Unite to end VAW 3

Dora’s story*

16-year-old Dora comes from a fishing village in Kabare territory and wanted to share her story with us. Dora became pregnant after she was raped while out collecting firewood.  

She said:

“Being pregnant, I thought it was the end of the world for me. I locked myself in the house because I didn't want to be seen by the people of my village because of the shame. Now I have been able to recover my honour, through psychological accompaniment and medical support.  

“I have now made the decision to become a woman leader and defender of women's rights. I want to mentor young girls, to inform them of their right. I ask you to get involved in advocating our case at the international and national level to all girls and women who are victims of sexual violence.” 

*Name changed 

Supported by UK Government's Aid Match

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