Each year, to raise public awareness of gender-based violence across the world, the United Nations recognizes 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The day begins a 16-day period of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, which culminates with International Human Rights Day on 10 December.
The UN defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats.”
Worldwide, 35 per cent of women have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives—a figure that, in some countries, is as high as 70 per cent.
Even women in positions of power continue to be subjected to violence. A new study of women parliamentarians around the world—including Europe and North America—found that more than 40 per cent of interviewees reported receiving threats of death, rape, beatings or abduction while serving their terms.
These statistics reflect a stark reality that not only grossly hinders the rights of half the world’s population, but also impedes the fight against poverty and hunger worldwide. For development programmes to be most effective, women need to participate fully as economic and decision-making actors—both roles that gender-based violence discourages.
Gender equality is one of five principles of engagement for IFAD’s Strategic Framework 2016-2025 and has been key to IFAD’s work for many decades. Empowering rural women economically – the first objective of IFAD’s Gender Policy – can help reduce their vulnerability to abuse and strengthen their independence. Improving intra-household relationships – through approaches such as the Household Methodologies, which IFAD developed with partners – can also be an effective way of reducing the incidence of domestic violence.
To read more and learn about IFAD's programs in India and Burundi, visit the IFAD website here.