Stop the violence blog - Stephanie Darmanin

Stephanie Darmanin

Europe regional advocacy representative

Stephanie spoke at the European launch of the “Stop the violence” campaign at European Parliament on 20 September.

 We've paved the path to dignity, don't let them turn us around

When contacted by WAGGGS office to give my contribution about violence against women, I felt obliged that I should bring this topic to global attention... with a bang! I started researching on the current situation and was moved by the horrendous statistics I came across. I thought I want to give visibility to such a social wound present in all European countries, from the mostly developed ones to the least.

It was truly a privilege for me to work with WAGGGS office staff and Hungarian Gabriella Heller on the fresh campaign STOP THE VIOLENCE – SPEAK OUT FOR GIRLS’ RIGHTS which aims to support all girls and young women in need. It is a powerful call for radical progress in their rights by raising awareness and non formal education. Trying to familiarise myself with various legislations, many questions kept popping up in my head. Are there European countries which haven’t ratified the CEDAW? How common is violence against women inEurope? Is there room for improvement at local level? What kind of monitoring and complaints mechanism for investigations is there inEurope? What kind of protection exists and is it reachable? And is this protection available regardless of the social, economic and citizenship status of the victims?

It is remarkable that something as simple as facebook post can empower us to create change and awareness in the world. Across the world, girls and young women are joining hands in solidarity and support, in a global women’s movement, sharing knowledge and experience and empowering themselves to build a peaceful and fairer world for themselves and their children. The message is crystal clear. A girl should not expect special privileges because of her sex but neither should she adjust to prejudice and discrimination. As WAGGGS, we are making our effort to give our input to eradicate violence and to fight culture in certain countries. Public attitudes play an important part in shaping the social environment in which the victims are embedded, which in turn may contribute either to perpetuate or to reduce the levels of violence in our societies. Such attitudes may create a climate of tolerance that makes it easier for perpetrators to persist in their violent behaviour, and makes it more difficult for young girls and women to disclose violence. This was the message, the women organisations, including WAGGGS, passed to MEP’s during a roundtable which took place during the Girls’ Week at the European Parliament inBrussels. We emphasised that we are awaiting tangible results by our decision-makers and urged that we need financial and professional assistance. And we highlighted that it is high time that the European Year of Zero Tolerance of Violence against Women be declared.

Our advocacy work derives from our Vision and our strategic plan to be “the voice of girls and young women who influence issues they care about and build a better world”. This leads to the words of Jane Fonda, an American actress "If you can intervene early in the lives of girls here and in other parts of the world, you can begin to change the prospects for the future." This should be the inspiration for all member organisations whilst working on the campaign with their members at national level. Even the little effort can make the big difference...

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