Preventing and eradicating violence against women and children remains a global challenge. In North America alone, the Canadian Women’s Foundation estimates that around 3,500 women and 2,700 children sleep in shelters across Canada on any given night to escape violence happening in their own homes.
On the other side of the globe, a study by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), illustrates the intense level of violence experienced by women in South Africa. The SAMRC estimate 40-50 per cent of women have at some point been the victim of violence from their male partner. The report also concluded that one in two children experience emotional abuse, parental neglect, or witness violence against their mothers at home.
Raising Voices was founded in 1999 as a non-profit that strives to catalyze social change in vulnerable communities where violence against women runs high. Based in Kampala, Uganda, the organization works closely with their partners throughout East and Southern Africa to build lasting relationships, in an effort to stem the tide of violence. This organization encourages critical thought surrounding human rights and activism and works to engage people from all levels of society so that dignity and respect are recognized.
As part of this, Raising Voices attempts to influence local and national policy. Such action also involves a global advocacy initiative including five steps to help prevent violence against women and children. These include leadership, creating equality, changing norms, challenging sectors, and investing in research and programming.
“Raising Voices undertakes evidence-based policy influencing by innovating methodologies for prevention of violence against women and children, testing their efficacy in partnership with other actors through rigorous research, investing in learning from what we do, and disseminating knowledge and evidence through advocacy and communications", said Peter Bahemuka, Senior Program Officer with Raising Voices.
One methodology that has taken off at Raising Voices is the Good School Toolkit. The Good School Toolkit aims to establish a collective vision for the school, create a nurturing learning environment, implement progressive learning strategies, and strengthen overall school governance.
An in-house study conducted in 2005 by Raising Voices found that over 60 per cent of its children experienced violence at school. The Good Toolkit is a child-friendly approach working to eliminate violence in the classroom. Its proactive approach influences educators and enables key stakeholders to create change in a natural way.
The work of organizations like Raising Voices is now more pertinent than ever, and the issue of violence against women and children demands that everyone to work together in unison. “For our part, Raising Voices mobilizes communities to create everyday activists and empowers people through reflection, skill-building, education, and dialogue to promote long-term sustainable prevention," Bahemuka said. It is hopeful to think that gender-based violence will someday be a chapter in our history, a not the daily reality for millions of women and children across the globe.
Click here to learn more on Raising Voices, and how you can help prevent violence against women and children.
This article was originally published by PWB on March 30th, 2017