2015 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women Focuses on Need for Prevention

Cuso International is joining with millions around the world today to recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Every ten minutes, somewhere in the world, an adolescent girl dies as a result of violence. More than one in ten girls has experienced sexual violence. Lack of access to education, health services and health choices and employment opportunities can also be seen as forms of violence against women. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women gives us the opportunity to raise our voices as one to say that this is unacceptable. We will never overcome poverty as long as women still face the threat of violence.

In keeping with this year’s theme of prevention, Cuso International is proud to support women and men in Canada and around the world in overcoming violence against women. We incorporate the themes of gender equity and social inclusion across all of our work. For instance, we are working with the ASOMUPRO women’s organization in Nicaragua that is providing training and skills for female entrepreneurship and financial independence. Many of the women accessing the program have fled abusive circumstances.

Cuso International volunteer Chrissy Fair worked with ASOMUPRO and saw firsthand how this work changed lives. “I worked with a woman named Yanet who was struggling to make ends meet after fleeing an abusive relationship,” says Chrissy. “At ASOMUPRO, I led workshops that taught Yanet and other women farmers about improving their incomes and health, and about opportunities for their children. During my six months in Nicaragua, I watched Yanet’s financial independence increase and her confidence and sense of freedom grow. She had taken full control of her life for the first time since bravely leaving her husband.”

Not only are gender equality and ending gender-based violence human rights issues, they are also essential to overcoming poverty and its effects. “Communities, cities and countries are more prosperous, equitable and healthy when women are able to reach their full potential and contribute to the betterment of their communities through economic and political participation,” says Cuso International CEO Evelyne Guindon. “In fact, when more women work, economies grow more quickly and communities and families prosper. Very often it is violence that holds women back from fully participating in society.”

Our gender work also includes the important role men play in ending violence and achieving equality. In Bolivia, we are working with El Centro de Investigación Social Tecnológica Apropiada y Capacitación (CISTAC), a national organization that focuses on contributing to gender equality through different thematic areas, such as masculinities, sexual and reproductive rights and gender-based violence. Our volunteers will support CISTAC on the development of healthy masculine identities for men and young males as a way to combat human trafficking, gender violence, spousal abuse, among others.