While at Beijing+20, I realized the area of feminism that I am most passionate about is gender-based violence. Violence against women in all spheres of life should be eradicated. One of the best ways to bring about change is through awareness and education. When people are aware of the consequences of violence and the repercussions, the rate of violence goes down. Everyone makes a difference in decreasing this rate. We all know that violence exists in the world but what are we doing to fight it? During the Q&A Session during the conference, one man said, “Understanding does not equal commitment.” Although we may understand the issues of violence, we may not commit to end it. We all have a role in ending gender-based violence; the conference helped me to realize the importance of educating myself in my role.
I helped to conduct an interview with two women from Pakistan about their organization, Aurat Foundation. Their organization helps to educate women about their rights and mentors women for political involvement at the grassroots levels. Some women are unaware of their rights; they do not know that an identity card is a requirement for citizenship to claim their rights. Without this card, women cannot vote, have a bank account, be a candidate, or report abuse to police. With the card, they have all rights as a citizen. Through this organization, many women are now protected from domestic violence. Women’s participation in politics has increased drastically. This is one example illustrates how educating women about their rights have improved all aspects of their lives.
I had the opportunity to meet with a statistician in his office to show him the database. This gave me a real life experience talking with a statistician in the field. He found our database to be an effective way of finding useful information about various regions and countries in the world. He stated that the local offices, which are less staffed, would be able to effectively research issues affecting their country using our database. Our database will reach various parts of the world and will help to bring about change.
One event “Real Talk/ Real Action: Engaging Men and Boys in Prevention and Intervention Strategies that Address Gender-Based Violence” was about how to educate boys in order to prevent violence. Violence is prevalent in every region of the world. According to Susan Kheder, around 5.8 billion is spent in healthcare related issues every year in the United States alone. Gender-based violence affects not only women but also men as well. The event talked about various tactics of educating men and boys throughout the world. One speaker talked about his experience of creating a platform for men and allowing them to see their roles as fathers. Another explained their program in Alaska where coaches act as a mentor to young boys in regions of high risk. The event highlighted various ways to prevent violence in a wide range of cultures.
Another event, “Research Study on the Issue of Femicide in the Dominican Republic” was about domestic violence in the home specifically murder. This year from January to March, 24 victims have been killed by their husbands in the Dominican Republic. One of the ways mentioned to combat this issue was through education. For every one boy there are two girls in secondary school. Through education, they hope to solve some of the issues that lead to violence. A representative from Peru mentioned some of the strategies toward combating violence. They have a national plan starting in 2009, which gives victims access to services such as shelters, legal counsel, and a hotline. The plan focuses on a national level in both rural and urban areas because women in both areas are at risk.
In conclusion, the conference expanded my knowledge. Everyone can be an advocate for equal rights. Everyone can make a difference. I hope to take the knowledge and experiences to educate others specifically on the dangers of violence. No person should have to worry about his or her physical security.