Voices against Violence comes to the Western Hemisphere region

14 October 2015
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On 17th October, nearly 50 Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 11 countries, focused mainly in the Western Hemisphere region, will bring their passion, enthusiasm and commitment on ending violence against girls and young women to New York, USA.

These inspiring participants will be learning more about how to implement WAGGGS’ and UN Women’s Voices against Violence curriculum, a central part of WAGGGS’ global advocacy campaign: Stop the Violence – speak out for girls’ rights.

Voices against Violence badgeDespite all UN Member States signing on to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995, which contained a progressive set of commitments to end violence against women and girls, we still live in a world where 6 out of every 10 girls and women will experience some form of violence in their lifetime[1]. Girls everywhere live in daily fear of violence, whether that’s sexual harassment at school or the risk of child marriage at home.  In the United States, 83 per cent of girls in grades 8 through 11 (aged 12 to 16) have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools[2] while women and girls constitute 80 per cent of the estimated 800,000 people trafficked annually, with the majority trafficked for sexual exploitation[3].

WAGGGS believes that education is the best tool we have to combat this issue, as only preventing it before it happens will save lives and allow girls to reach their full potential. The Voices against Violence curriculum, produced in partnership with UN Women, is co-educational and uses WAGGGS’ unique non-formal learning method to empower young people to claim their rights and say no to violence. It allows young men to deconstruct the harmful masculinities that place them in a position of power over girls and young women, and empowers girls to realise their true value. 

042015_Zambia_Exploring sexual harrassment at ACTIVATE

The trainers who attend this ACTIVATE event are the first step to supporting Member Organisations to create real change in their communities. Such a complex issue takes time to challenge, as it requires learned behaviours to change and a process of individuals recognising their own biases and stereotypes. This is why the ACTIVATE process is so important – it provides a safe space where the trainers can question their own assumptions and start to recognise myths and harmful beliefs without fear of reprisal, and then ensure these discriminatory social norms are not condoned at a national level.

Although our current funding from Zonta International has enabled us to have already trained 15 Member Organisations at two previous ACTIVATE events, we are only at the beginning of a long-term process of social change. It’s with excitement, but also apprehension that ten Stop the Violence Lead Facilitators arrive in New York, as the thought of 800,000 young people eventually taking part in this life-changing curriculum is awe-inspiring, however it can sometimes also be hard to believe that what’s being done by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts will make any sort of real impact. As one inspirational female scientist once said, though: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.[4]

Good luck to all Lead Facilitators and participants – you are true agents of change!

Join them on this journey:

  • From 2 – 2:30pm EST on Wednesday 21st October tweet questions to @WAGGGSDelegates and the participants will respond
  • Keep an eye out for 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence materials which will support your own small steps of social change from 25th November – 10th December


[1] World Health Organisation

[2] In-depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women: Report of the Secretary-General, 2006

[3] Plan UK

[4] Margaret Mead

End violence against girls with non-formal education!

Do you want to roll out Voices against Violence in your organisation? Email an Expression of Interest form to stoptheviolence@wagggs.org

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