International Women’s Day: Linking Struggles and Successes of the Movement to End Violence Against Girls and Women Around the Globe
Today is International Women’s Day – an opportunity to celebrate and recognize movement leaders who have worked hard to achieve human rights and dignity for girls and women. It is a day to reflect on how we have collectively advanced, and to act on what else needs to be done so that dignity, equality, and justice are truly part of all communities. At Move to End Violence, a program of the NoVo Foundation, International Women’s Day is also a reminder of how critical it is to keep linking our efforts to end violence against girls and women in the United States to similar struggles and celebrations all around the world.
Violence against girls and women may (sometimes) look different depending on where you are in the world. But no matter where we focus our work to end violence against girls and women, we are all ultimately struggling against the same root causes: patriarchy, political apathy, marginalization and inequality of girls and women, to name only a few. In many instances, our strategies to address violence against girls and women are also similar, if not directly linked.
For example, NoVo is proud to support Population Council in Kenya working to empower girls through a combination of economic and social assets and safe spaces, and to make them less vulnerable to violence. Its work is not so different from that of Movement Maker organizations Girls for Gender Equity in New York City, or A Long Walk Home in Chicago. Raising Voices – a grantee of NoVo based in Uganda – uses a community-based approach to address and change social norms that perpetuate violence against girls and women. Close to Home (another Movement Maker organization) has led work to use a similar approach in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and now in sites throughout California. And more recently, we have all seen how the tremendous campaign for #BlackLivesMatter spread to cities and places outside the United States – including Tokyo, Palestine, and New Delhi – joining the struggles for racial equality and an end to state sponsored violence everywhere.
The commonalities and connections between our work, even while taking place in different contexts, demand that we see ourselves as part of the same struggle. It is for this reason that NoVo does not divide or distinguish our work between “domestic” and “international.” It is also why one of the key elements of Move to End Violence – a program to strengthen the movement to end violence against girls and women in the United States – is an overseas learning exchange.
Each cohort cycle, Movement Makers travel internationally to meet with survivor leaders and other advocates who are using a variety of strategies and approaches to end violence against girls and women. The previous two cohorts traveled to India and our next cohort will travel to South Africa. Our hope for and experience from these exchanges is that they provide Movement Makers with the opportunity to share their work with advocates in other parts of the world, prompt imagination and creativity around what is possible in the United States, and maybe even lead to transnational collaboration. Most importantly, we hope to build solidarity between Movement Makers and peers working in different areas, but whose struggles are all deeply connected.
Of course solidarity takes work and is hard to quantify. But on this International Women’s Day, we continue to believe that our efforts to end violence against girls and women will only succeed if we see ourselves as operating within a global movement to end violence, and if we seek out the connections and relationships that help us build this collective power.
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