We have compiled the most commonly asked questions about the Stop the Violence campaign below.
Why is the Stop the Violence campaign a campaign to end violence against girls and young women in particular, and not women generally?
WAGGGS acknowledges that girls and young women suffer an increased vulnerability to violence because of the double discrimination of both their sex and their age. Being young means that girls have less decision-making power and their voices aren't listened to in the same way adults' voices are. Being female means that they are viewed as less valuable in society than boys and men and there are gender expectations, roles and norms that they are expected to conform to that place them in an inferior position to boys and men in society. When these two elements compound they increase a girl or a young woman’s risk of being discriminated against and therefore increase the risk they face of suffering violence.
Why is violence against girls an issue?
Violence against girls is a violation of a girl’s human rights.
Everyone has the right to live a life free from violence and the fear of violence, and therefore anything that causes or threatens physical, physiological or emotional harm to a girl, limits her freedom of movement or right to an education, results in a loss of her life or takes away any of her internationally recognised rights is wrong, and must stop. Violence and discrimination has serious physical, emotional, financial and social effects on the lives of girls and young women. It costs countries billions in health and legal services, well-being and lost economic output. Furthermore, the emotional and mental impact on the girl and her well-being is untold.
Why does violence against girls and young women happen?
Gender inequality and discrimination is the root cause (and also a consequence) of violence against girls and young women. Gender inequality creates gender roles, norms and expectations that reinforce and reflect girls and young women’s experience of and risk of violence. Differences between men and women, boys and girls are reinforced through gender inequality and this creates unequal power relationships that can result in women and girls being given a low position in their relationships, communities and societies. This not only increases girls and women’s risk of violence it also makes it difficult for them to access the support that they need as their experiences are not listened to and their needs are not met.
Until gender inequality is fully addressed and equality is
achieved, violence against girls will continue. You can learn about this in
more detail by reading the WAGGGS' position paper on violence against girls.
What about violence against boys?
Boys and young men do experience forms of violence, such as sexual exploitation, dating violence, forced marriage and sexual violence. But these forms of violence disproportionately impact on the lives of girls and young women. Girls and young women around the world experience higher levels of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial violence and abuse. They are more likely than men and boys to experience violence and abuse in their homes, their relationships, their friendships, their social networks, their schools, their streets, their work, and in areas of conflict.
Although the nature of the Stop the Violence campaign’s work focuses on violence against girls, by addressing and changing practices and patterns that contribute to violence against girls, similar practices that underpin violence against boys will be changed and challenged too.
But violence is not happening in my country so this is not relevant to me… Why should I get involved?
Violence against girls happens in every country. Sometimes it is not reported - victims keep silent through fear of embarrassment and shame and in other cases poor legislation and support services means that cases are not recorded. Violence has a culture of silence surrounding it. So even if you think that it is not happening in your country, it is very possible that it is happening in a house at the end of your road or at a school in your neighbourhood.
No country in the world has achieved gender equality and as gender inequality and discrimination is the root cause of violence against girls there is still violence present in all countries and communities. This violence may look different in different parts of the world, but the fact remains that the unequal power relations that exist between men and women, boys and girls are upheld through some form of violence – visible or invisible – in all parts of the world.
Is there a role for men and boys in this campaign?
Men and boys are integral to ending violence against girls and young women. It is very important to work together to promote the role that boys and young men can play to challenge violence against girls and young women. When working with men and boys on this issue you should create safe spaces for boys and young men to discuss gender inequality and violence against women and girls, ask them about their needs and how best to communicate with and engage other young men and boys. Challenging gender stereotypes that place girls and young women in subordinate positions can also be a positive experience for boys and young men as their ideas of what it means to be a man are shifted and they are able to move towards more positive and respectful forms of masculinity.
Boys and young men can make fantastic allies to stop the violence and are great campaign champions to develop and deliver the messages of the campaign. Organisations such as White Ribbon Campaign are great examples of men committing to ending violence against women.
Is it our role to stop the violence? Isn’t it sometimes a private or cultural matter?
Everyone has a role to play in ending violence against girls and young women. Any act that violates a girl or young woman’s human rights is wrong, and culture, tradition and beliefs that support or condone these actions should never be used as an excuse or justification. Violence being a “private matter” is often used as an excuse and this silence allows the perpetuation of violence to continue as girls and young woman’s voices are not heard and they are unable to get the support they need. Diversity in culture, tradition and beliefs is to be celebrated, unless these differences are used to justify the continuation of violence against girls and the denial of their rights.
I’ve seen UN Women advertising the Voices against Violence curriculum… What is the difference between the Stop the Violence campaign and the Voices against Violence curriculum?
The Stop the Violence – speak out for girls’ rights campaign is WAGGGS’ Global Advocacy Campaign, and the Voices against Violence curriculum is one element of this campaign that sits within the education pillar.
The non-formal co-educational Voices against Violence curriculum was produced in partnership with UN Women and is a key prevention tool in the elimination of violence against women and girls. Due to the sensitive nature of the content the whole curriculum is not available online and Member Organisations are required to follow a ‘pathway to delivery’ to obtain it, which includes attending training and working towards adopting a Child Protection Policy. This is to ensure the association has the expertise, understanding, skills and confidence to safely deliver activities on what is a very complex issue.
Find out more about the Voices against Violence curriculum.
I’d love to work on this campaign but as it is such a sensitive topic I’m worried about how to do it safely with my group. Have you got any advice?
The Leader’s Handbook for the Voices against Violence curriculum contains some great advice on how to deliver the curriculum activities safely and these guidelines are transferable to any discussions or conversations that take place around the issue of violence against girls and young women. You can also find this advice in our safety considerations.
The most important aspect is to ensure you set a safe space from the very beginning. This is a space where everyone feels comfortable to give their opinion without judgement, where harmful attitudes and beliefs are constructively challenged and where diversity is celebrated.
Where can Girl Guides and Girl Scouts make a difference in ending violence against girls and young women?
As organisations committed to the empowerment of girls and young women, WAGGGS and its’ Member Organisations have a responsibility to address this violation of human rights. As a global movement Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has the power to break the shroud of silence and give a voice to girls and young women to articulate their rights to live lives free from violence and abuse. With decades of experience of supporting individual empowerment and working in local communities in a culturally and contextually sensitive way, and with expertise in non-formal education and advocacy Girl Guides and Girl Scouts can do this at four different levels: individual, family and community, cultural and educational and institutional.
For more information on WAGGGS’ unique contribution to the prevention and eradication of violence against girls and young women you can read our position paper on violence against girls.
Girl Guides and Girl Scouts can make a real difference in a space which UN Women tells us there is no data, no voice, no programmes and no investment, and our research shows this to be true on the ground.
How can I share my story of my work on the Stop the Violence campaign?
WAGGGS always wants to hear about individuals and Member Organisation’s experiences of working on the Stop the Violence campaign and Voices against Violence curriculum. We would like to upload more news stories and opinion pieces from our Stop the Violence champions.
You can email your story, along with photos, or request to write a blog to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to hear from you!