November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. CARE empowers women and girls as part of our mission to defend dignity and fight poverty worldwide.
By guest blogger Margaret Capelazo
CARE Canada Gender Advisor
What do you think of when someone says “stepping out of bounds”? Perhaps your mind turns to sports: Volleyball? Basketball? Soccer? Put your toe across the line and the play or possibly the game, is over.
For many women in the world, stepping out-of-bounds has much harsher consequences.
Imagine a woman who is not able to leave her home – she may be blocked by her husband, her father, or perhaps the community. She may not have permission to travel down the road to school, to walk to the nearest town to access health care, or to go to the local market to sell or buy food. If she steps out without permission, she may face violence or even death. The boundaries she is confined to are both physical and cultural, affecting her ability to get an education, earn a decent living, access health care and spend time with friends.
As part of our work around the world, CARE empowers women, girls, boys, men, and entire communities to break down these boundaries. In Pakistan, for example, CARE works with women and their communities to help women leave their homes and earn an income rebuilding roads. These women get a legal minimum wage and support to start small businesses that provide a longer-term income once the roads are finished. The project also benefits the community as it improves their access to the services and supplies they need.
Before women could even step out to join this project, however, CARE worked closely with community elders, husbands and male heads of household to ensure women’s mobility was fully supported. As a consequence, the women participants had safe travels to work each day and their role in the project was accepted by the community.
Today, the women participants are literally paving the way in their communities – just as CARE paved the way for these women to participate and live in safety, with cultural acceptance and dignity.
On November 25, we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against women, followed by the 16 Days of Action leading up to the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women. We encourage everyone to act now to prevent violence against women. Whether you speak up about violence in your own community, participate in a local community event to mark the 16 Days of Action, make a donation to an organization like CARE Canada or seek out other ways to take action – you will make a difference. We all have a part to play in eliminating violence against women. Do your part today.