India | International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

26 November, 2011

There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable. – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

For 30 years, November 25th has been recognised by activists as a day to raise awareness about violence against women – violence defined by the United Nations (UN) as “acts capable of causing physical, sexual or psychological harm, whether in public or private life.” In 1999, the day was officially designated by the UN General Assembly as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Women and girls in villages worldwide experience gender-based violence daily in the form of discrimination, dowry murder, acid attacks, pre-natal sex-selection, honour killings, sexual harassment and abduction. It is unacceptable that nearly one in every three women has been subjected to these violent acts in her lifetime.

The continued subjugation of women through coercive violence forces many women and girls into lives of isolation and despair. That is why The Hunger Project (THP) programmes empower women to take control of their rights and lives and work together to sensitise communities to the rights of women.

India Women Campaigning for ChangeIn India, a specific initiative called the Panchayati Raj Campaign began in 2000 to empower women in local government to be effective change agents and lead their communities toward equity and self-reliance.

When 26-year-old Deepa Rajguru was elected as the Sarpanch (president) of Gram Panchayat (village council) Udvariya in Rajasthan, she had not yet attended a THP training for elected women and found it difficult to function in the male-dominated system. Men made all council decisions and resisted the participation of women by insisting that Deepa and the other women representatives sit at the back during panchayat meetings.

Nearly devoid of confidence in her position, Deepa participated in THP-India’s capacity building programme for elected women representatives (EWRs) and, with the support of other women in her panchayat, began voicing her opinion on a variety of issues.

Some of Deepa’s most successful initiatives have included sanctioning a pipeline to bring water to her village and promoting fiscal transparency from the panchayat – often in the face of incredible opposition and threats of violence against herself and her family. Yet she remains undeterred and resolutely committed to raising awareness about domestic violence in all forms. She works daily to economically empower women and educate them of their rights.

On November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, The Hunger Project calls on individuals and governments to find inspiration in Deepa’s story – inspiration to take actions to prevent senseless acts of violence that happen every day, the world over. Stand with us and the girls and women who have been victimised by gender-based violence. Stand with us and invest in programmes that empower women and develop their capacity to build better lives for themselves, their families and their entire communities.

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Invest in women like Deepa today.