Today, December 10th, is International Human Rights Day and the final day of the 16 Days Campaign against Gender-Based Violence. This campaign was started in 1991 by the Women’s Global Leadership Institute and is observed annually by Anglicans worldwide. The International Anglican Women’s Network has composed a page of resources on gender-based violence available at http://iawn.anglicancommunion.org/resources/documents.cfm#s3.
Robin Denney writes here about gender-based violence and her experience representing the Episcopal Church as part of the Anglican Communion’s delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women earlier this year. Thank you to Robin and all Episcopalians and Anglicans who participated in this year’s campaign.
We are in the midst of 16 important days. The 16 Days between International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25) and International Human Rights Day (December 10) has been a time of mobilization for women’s groups around the globe since 1991. Thousands of organizations participate in this 16 day campaign to raise awareness and end violence against women.
Did you know that there are 160 million women missing from the world today? Women who were killed or were aborted merely because of their gender. It is easy as westerners to point fingers at countries in Asia and Africa and say that the governments there are not doing enough to stop gender-based violence. It is important that we stand with our sisters around the world and help their voices be heard. But we also need to realize that gender-based violence is a huge problem in our own country, a problem which plagues all parts of society and is largely ignored.
- In the United States 1,000-1,600 women are killed each year by their spouse or partner. While many more commit suicide or die on the streets having fled violence to homelessness or prostitution.
- Women in the U.S. lose 7.9 million workdays a year due to injury from domestic violence.
- The total cost of domestic violence annually in our country is 8.3 billion dollars (in lost wages and medical care).
- One in five women in the U.S. has been raped. Nearly half of rapes go unreported. Of those that do get reported only 25% lead to arrests.
- One in four women have been beaten by an intimate partner.
- In Topeka Kansas October 2011, the city council voted to de-criminalize domestic violence so that they wouldn’t have to pay for the trials.
- In 2010 women in the U.S. made only 81% of what men made for full time work. Violence against women and wage disparity are statistically linked.
The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have a rich tradition of advocacy and support of women’s rights. We have long been involved annually with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The Mother’s Union and the Episcopal Church Women have a long history of women speaking out for women from every corner of the globe.
The Anglican Consultative Council, which is one of the instruments of communion which bind our many provinces into one communion, has passed two groundbreaking resolutions regarding women in the last 7 years:
- 2005 Resolution 13.31: requests that churches comply with Millennium Development Goal 3 by having equal representation of women on all decision making bodies at all levels of the church!
- 2009 Resolution 14.33: is a call to action against gender based violence, “[The ACC] unequivocally supports the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, including trafficking, and encourages all Provinces to participate in programs and events that promote the rights and welfare of women.”
I was one of 20 women from around the Anglican Communion who were observers to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March of this year. Being a part of this effort, and learning these shocking statistics changed my life and opened my eyes.
We follow the God who came to be one of us, to touch and heal women and men who the world rejected, to raise up both women and men to be his followers and to proclaim his Gospel. Let us go forth into the world, these 16 days and beyond, our eyes never to be closed again to the plight of the vulnerable amongst us!