Hope, gains and progress in preventing violence against women and girls
By Emma Fulu I have been working to address violence against women and girls across the world for over 15 years. Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is such a deeply entrenched and commonplace human rights violation that, sometimes, it feels as if we are not making progress. When I talk to survivors and witness first-hand how violence endangers the lives of women and girls every single day, I can’t help but feel frustrated that change is not happening fast enough. In the midst of the day-to-day struggle, particularly at a time when backlash appears to be on the rise, there are times I feel disheartened.
However, in conducting a strategic evaluation of Australian development assistance for ending violence against women and girls (EVAWG) over the past ten years, I feel hopeful. We examined progress, on a large scale, across multiple countries, over a decade. We travelled to multiple countries across the Asia-Pacific region, reviewed countless documents, and conducted interviews and group discussions with hundreds of people working on the ground, from magistrates to police, healthcare workers to activists, policymakers to religious leaders.
When we widen the aperture, and look at the big picture, we can see just how much has changed. Ten years ago people rarely talked about the issue of VAWG. There was virtually no data and services to respond to the issue were all but non-existent. Now, as one program staff member from Indonesia noted:
“The number of reports of violence against women has increased – that is good. Now they know there is a law to back them up, and now they know where to go. Before, domestic violence was a very taboo issue but now they know. People who used to keep silent, now they are changing.”
Australia has played a significant role, alongside women’s rights organisations, activists, community members …read more