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Published on 25 November 2021

The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”.

Violence against women is highly prevalent and has been recognised as a human rights violation of global significance, as reports state that one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence. This figure has increased recently because of lockdowns during the current COVID-19 pandemic, as reports state that in some countries two in three women have reported or know a woman that has experienced some form of violence. This can harm women’s well-being, health, and hinder them from participating in society.

To help combat the issue, almost 155 countries have passed laws against domestic violence and sexual harassment.

Furthermore, the United Nations (UN) has passed international agreements and conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. However, there is a problem when it comes to countries upholding these agreements, enforcing their domestic laws, preventing such violence, and making sure perpetrators are punished.

To bring further awareness to this global issue, the UN is supporting the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign from 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

Originally established by activists, the campaign is held each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, with 2021 marking the 30th anniversary of the campaign. This initiative will be held in conjunction with the global theme set by the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign ‘Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!’. For the UN, the colour orange will be central to this year’s campaign. It represents a brighter future that is free from violence against women and girls.

Image credits and information i
Neelam Chaturvedi, Sakhi Kendra organisation , Kanpur, India Credit: Emily Garthwaite/ Christian Aid
 Neelam Chaturvedi, Sakhi Kendra organisation , Kanpur, India

Christian Aid and the work of combatting GBV

Christian Aid through its partners, programmes and campaigns has done significant work around gender-based violence over the decades.

For example, for the 2019 Christian Aid Christmas Appeal, a focus was given to Christian Aid’s partner organisation Sakhi Kendra in India that defends and gets justice for victims of gender and caste-based violence and rape. Founder, Neelam Chaturvedi is an Indian women’s human rights defender and activist. She works to raise awareness about gender-based violence in India and to create solutions to combat the issue.

A similar issue occurs in the neighbouring country Bangladesh, where the rate of violence against women is amongst the highest in the world.

Since 2017, Christian Aid has set up initiatives in Bangladesh that prevent gender-based violence and establish gender justice in the workplace. Christian Aid has also partnered with UN Women in their Combatting Gender-Based Violence (CGBV) project in Bangladesh which focuses on preventive intervention at the levels of the individual, family, community, and social institutions.

In El Salvador, a country that has experienced high levels of violence throughout its history, women are often murdered as a result of domestic violence and find it difficult to report the abuse or reach out for support.

Christian Aid supporter, Organisation of the Salvadorian Women for Peace (ORMUSA) offers women who have abusive partners support through counselling and legal advice. More than 50 women have received legal support for ORMUSA’s Legal Attention Centre and have benefitted from psychological care in the last year.

Rhina Graciela Juárez Lazo, a staff member at ORMUSA’s Legal Attention Centre explains how the lockdown last year prevented women from reporting violence or seeking help. She said, “Lockdown was an influential factor in the increase in domestic violence of a verbal, sexual, economic and psychological nature and in the worst case, femicide.

“This was due to women living longer with their aggressor. Added to that is the stress produced from being in the same place for a long time, which causes a hostile environment for the whole family. The lack of public transport during this time also restricted women from moving around and they feared being arrested for travelling to file complaints.”

Other Christian Aid partners in Latin America and the Caribbean focus on raising national awareness to fight against the root cause of GBV and advocate for the establishment of high-quality GBV services for women.

For example, Movimiento de Mujere Dominico-Haitianas (MUDHA) in the Dominican Republic focuses on protecting migrant women against GBV and has supported approximately 700 women. Other partners in the region are implementing a variety of initiatives that will help bring about gender justice and help eradicate GBV.


Throughout the next 16 days, Christian Aid and its staff will be supporting and participating in the global 16 Days of Activism by posting pictures in support of the hashtag #EndGBV.

Image credits and information i
Eric with GBV sign
Eric with a sign saying "#END GBV 16 Days"
A women standing inside an orange frame with the words "End gender based violence" at the top of the frame

Christian Aid Bangladesh along with our local partner will be campaigning for the public and workplace to be free of violence for women and girls. We shall do this by reaching out and bringing this issue to the attention of transport workers and owners, the city authority and other duty bearers

- Farhana Afroz, Programme Manager in Christian Aid Bangladesh.

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