Gender-based violence is a pervasive barrier to global security, to women’s empowerment, and to economic growth, said USAID Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Michelle Bekkering.
Bekkering said on Friday, on The 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence And The Launch Of New Women’s Empowerment Initiatives, that in too many places around the world today women face barriers – barriers to equality, to resources, to opportunities, and these are just to name a few.
“These barriers can range from violence at home, violence in their communities. It could be a barrier to credit, to the connectivity needed to launch a business,” said Bekkering.
According to UNWOMEN, it is estimated that 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. However, some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
USAID is working to break down these barriers to allow women the opportunity to achieve their full potential. So today, in particular, I want to focus on the issue of gender-based violence, recognizing the toll this takes on women, on girls, on their families, on communities and countries.”
She also noted that gender-based violence is estimated right now to have cost the world more than 5 percent of its global GDP, having a greater aggregate economic impact than war.
“And so from November 25 to December 10th, USAID is joining many other countries, agencies, and partners in the international community for the Global Campaign: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. And as USAID we observe and support these days of activism to prevent violence, to ensure justice for victims, and to find ways to lift women up and to level the playing field both socially and economically.”
Worldwide, almost 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Child marriage is more common in West and Central Africa, where over 4 in 10 girls were married before age 18, and about 1 in 7 were married or in union before age 15. Child marriage often results in early pregnancy and social isolation, interrupts schooling, limits the girl’s opportunities and increases her risk of experiencing domestic violence – UNWOMEN
Bekkering said people even had a hard time talking in their communities where they work about gender-based violence because they said it is a private issue, adding “If we’re going to talk about it, let’s get the religious communities to come in, maybe we’ll talk to the schools”.