Why we must stop the violence in Costa Rica

Stop the violence

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Maria Laura Navarro Solano, a young Leader from the Asociación De Guías Y Scouts De Costa Rica explains why WAGGGS' "Stop the violence" campaign is important.

Maria Laura Costa RicaI think that the issue of violence against girls and young women is of huge importance and that we should take immediate action for change.  For example in my country Costa Rica this year in 2011 from 1 January to 15 May 21 women have been reported murdered – 43 per cent of these were directly linked to domestic violence and gender issues. I believe that many women in Costa Rica suffer domestic violence without even realising what is happening to them.  Violence consists of shouting or verbal abuse, physical and sexual attacks and emotional abuse or neglect. 

Many women are victims of abuse simply because they do not realise it or are unaware of what abuse consists of.  They may also not be aware of their human rights or are in genuine fear for their lives. 

I believe that the “Stop the violence” campaign will help to educate girls and young women to recognise gender violence and to learn to value their rights. 

On a personal level I am very happy to be part of this campaign as I believe that our actions, however small they may be, will contribute towards making a real difference.  If we all join forces we can achieve significant change. 

Being part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is already taking action against gender violence as we have all learned about our rights, responsibilities and leadership potential.  I have learned to value myself as a woman and to help teach other girls and young women about these issues.

In February this year I had the privilege of representing WAGGGS at the 55th UN Commission on the Status of Women, an experience that truly opened my eyes to the status of women around the world. It also provided me with the tools and motivation to take action for change for women. 

My Guide and Scout Association in Costa Rica has expressed its support in taking action and to further develop this issue. Last year we established a partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights and a group of leaders was trained on this topic.  The idea now is to share this information throughout the Association.  Alongside this a “say no to violence” committee has been set up to develop activities and workshops to educate and raise awareness of violence against women, as well as to devise an Association gender policy. 

Amongst the actions that I have taken for “Stop the violence” are: researching the issue widely, joining social networks and trying to support  campaigns such as “Because I’m a girl” and “The girl effect”.  Perhaps not all my friends are interested in this but I know that many already are and are sharing the information.  I feel this is important as it is raising the awareness of other people. 

I think that each one of us and each woman around the world has a different story but we are all women and should therefore support each other and join forces in putting a stop to gender violence which affects so many women. We should educate ourselves, speak out and take action so that our rights as women are respected and valued. 

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