Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. According to a 2013 WHO global study, 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner.
To raise awareness and trigger action to end this global scourge, the UN observes International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November.
The Hivos Rights and Citizenship programme invests over nine million euros annually in innovative programmes and partners that promote women’s empowerment and advance women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive rights. We also back initiatives that enable women and girls to hold government and companies accountable for non-compliance with anti-discrimination policies.
From securing decent work in East Africa to participation in democratic transitions in Honduras and Iraq, Hivos works with frontrunners of change and social justice to further women’s rights and lobby for new laws protecting women against discrimination and sexual and domestic violence. Our partnerships with global organisations like the International Women’s Rights Actions Watch Asia Pacific, the sexuality and rights institute, Just Associates and the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), play an essential role in linking local activists to the global instruments of United Nations treaties and special rapporteurs.
An important aim of Women’s Empowerment is to increase the representation and participation of women in politics. We have enabled women to organise themselves and voice their demands in Northern Iraq, during the revolutionary movement in Egypt, in the national parliaments of Zimbabwe and Kenya, and in local government and village councils in India and Indonesia.
Hivos partners with Wadi and WOLA in Northern Iraq and Kefeado and Rural Women Peace Link in Kenya to end violent practices such as child marriage, honour killings and female genital mutilation. They work step by step in local communities with popular education and awareness-raising campaigns and involve both local authorities and mainstream media.
“Women on the Frontline”
Hivos strongly believes that participation of women in political and economic processes is particularly urgent in the MENA region during these times of transition, where the political representation of women after the fall of the dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia has declined against a backdrop of increased reports of gender-based violence (GBV) in all countries in transition. The “Women on the Frontline” initiative is a powerful response to the rightful demands of women in the MENA region for gender equality and inclusion in all ongoing political processes. This three-year initiative will support capacity development of the partners in the programme to enhance women’s active participation in the political process in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya.
For Hivos, women’s rights are human rights. And we believe that women who forcefully stand up for equal access to resources and opportunities for development, and insist on equal participation in decision-making processes that affect their lives, are key to the well-being of society at large and of future generations.