Creating Strength in Numbers to End Violence Against Women & GirlsPosted on by
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign falls every year between the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25th, and Human Rights Day on December 10th. It is a time to raise awareness and galvanize global support and action to end violence against women and girls around the world. At Together for Girls, we believe that in order to effectively prevent and respond to violence, we must first understand it –and it starts with the data.
Through the Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS), led by CDC in partnership with Together for Girls, we have collected data on violence for approximately 10% of the world’s youth population aged 13-24. VACS data gives us better insight into the magnitude of the problem, its consequences and risk factors. It provides reliable evidence on physical, sexual, and emotional violence experienced by boys and girls that has never been available before. The VACS have revolutionized the field in only 10 years, providing a critical foundation to drive our work.
The VACS data are sobering. They show that more than 30% of girls experience sexual violence before age 18, and almost 1 in 4 describe their first sexual experience as forced or coerced. Everywhere we’ve looked, we’ve found high numbers of girls and women being pressured, coerced or physically forced to have sex. The data show that sexual violence often has life-altering consequences for girls, including pregnancy and HIV transmission. Our data also show that boys experience unacceptably high levels of sexual violence, often with severe consequences.
As part of our mission to collect, highlight, and effectively communicate data on violence against girls and boys and better showcase the work of the Together for Girls partnership, we have just launched a new website. We are especially excited about our new interactive map. By clicking on each country, you can view their progress in completion of the VACS, as well as download public data sets, reports, actions plan and more. We will continue to build out a collection of resources on our new site, so check back in with us for new interactive tools and maps along the way.
One thing is clear: A problem of this magnitude cannot be solved by one actor or sector alone. Our response must be robust, multi-sectoral and driven by data. The good news is that we understand the problem now more than ever before, and we have the evidence to show what works to prevent and respond to violence. The INSPIRE: Seven Strategies to Prevent Violence Against Children technical package is helping to lead the way, focusing on evidence-based solutions to move the data to action. There is great work being done every day by our partners and in communities all around the world. That is why for the 16 Days of Activism, Together for Girls recognized 16 heroes who are working to break the cycle of violence in unique and innovative ways. This 16 Days, let’s celebrate the great work being done, but also know that we have a lot more to do. We all have a role to play. Share the stories of the 16 heroes, share the data and resources, and encourage your friends, families and coworkers to learn more and get involved. By better understanding the problem and working together to spark action, we can create a safer world for every girl and boy.