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Eradicating Injustice: United in the Fight Against Gender-Based Violence

by webmaster
15 comments

Ambassador Maria Brewer

This month marks the beginning of the Embassy’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, starting with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, and culminating with Human Rights Day on December 10.  These two markers symbolize what we know to be true: achieving gender equality is not possible without addressing gender-based violence.  Gender-based violence is a human rights abuse that holds back everyone, particularly women and girls, from fully and safely participating in social, economic, and political life.

What does it mean for us to put anti-violence values into practice each day in all aspects of our lives?  What does it look like for government, civil society, business, and every part of society to say that enough is enough – we will no longer tolerate gender-based violence?

These are questions we should all be asking ourselves in our homes, communities, and countries.  Gender-based violence continues unabated in every region of the world, at all levels of society.  The United States is committed to addressing this vast and complex problem that limits the ability of survivors of this global pandemic to fully enjoy their rights around the world.  We recognize the critical linkages between gender equality—including prevention and response to gender-based violence—and democracy, national security, economic security, climate change, global public health, and human rights.  This is why, over the last two years, the United States has prioritized development and implementation of the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality and updated the U.S. Strategy to Prevent & Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally and U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security.

Lesotho, unfortunately, faces one of the highest incidences of sexual and gender-based violence globally.  Statistics reveal alarming figures, with 86 percent of Basotho women experiencing gender-based violence in their lifetime, ranking third in the world for rape incidences per capita and having the sixth highest murder rate among non-warring countries.

In our collaborative efforts with the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, we are intensifying initiatives to scale up violence prevention, mitigation, and response services.  Notably, through PEPFAR and in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, Youth and Social Development, and the Lesotho Mounted Police Services, we’ve played a vital role in implementing community gender norms change, ensuring the provision of quality post-gender-based violence care, and strengthening the Child and Gender Protection Unit offering non-discriminatory, age-appropriate care to survivors.

Other Embassy-supported programs, including the Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe (DREAMS) program for adolescent girls and young women and Khutlo aim to dismantle harmful gender norms, reduce stigma, and build capacity for inclusive gender-based violence services.  Through our USAID Global Labor Programs project and the Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment, and Rights (M-POWER), we are supporting advocacy for legislative provisions protecting against gender-based violence and harassment in the workplace.  Through Peace Corps and the Grassroot Soccer curriculum, youth are given a safe atmosphere for learning and to improve knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights.  The curriculum works to counter gender-based violence by encouraging reflection and dialogue about gender roles and norms among participants.

The forthcoming Millenium Challenge Corporation Lesotho Health and Horticulture compact underscores our commitment to supporting victims of gender-based violence.  Through its Health Systems Strengthening project, we aim to implement the recently enacted Counter Domestic Violence Bill, emphasizing women’s health and ensuring confidentiality of gender-based violence data in primary health care services.

While we are actively engaged, along with our partners in government and civil society, in the fight against gender-based violence, it is clear that much more must be done.  Urgency is paramount – scaling up proven preventive measures, promoting gender equality, strengthening laws, and prioritizing survivor-centered, trauma-informed, evidence-based approaches in our policies and programs are critical steps forward.

Together, let us unite against the scourge of gender-based violence and collectively strive for a future where all people can thrive.

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