Today is International Human Rights Day and the final day of 16 days of Activism to combat Violence Against Women and Girls. We shouldn’t need these reminders that women’s rights are human rights, but we do. We need them now more than ever.
Amongst all in the inequalities women face, violence against women is the most dangerous and pernicious because women are abused, sexually assaulted and killed as a result of it. Women make up at least 50% of the population and yet we still live in a place where women are not safe on the street, at work or at home. In the year to September 2017 the statistics for domestic abuse incidents in London rose to 144,000, an increase of 1.9% on the previous year with rape offences increasing by a staggering 19%. Sexual offences on trains and the Underground have more than doubled over a five year period with reporting increased by more than 122%. We cannot afford to ignore this message.
It is important that when we talk about gender inequality we join the dots up and regard violence against women as the worst of all the inequalities we face and remind everyone that it is unacceptable and it needs to end.
Britain has made no progress in tackling inequality in the past decade and is among the worst performing countries in the EU. In every sphere of a woman’s life she has to fight hard to achieve equality and this imbalance is something that we don’t seem to be able to shift. In the UK parliament 208 women MPs were elected at the 2017 General Election, 32% of all MPs and a record high but we are still not 50/50.
We still face discrimination at work and the World Economic Forum has said it will take an estimated 217 years for the disparities in the pay and employment opportunities of men and women to end which is a severe decline; worsening in just one year from 170 years. Can we really wait that long? Does this also mean another 217 years of sexual harassment at work and at the same time receiving less pay?
The bottom-line is we remain underrepresented, underpaid and unsafe. Will we remain silent? No.
We have seen high profile social media campaigns empowering women to be a part of #MeToo, #TimesUp, #BlackLivesMatter, and we can already see how this is making a difference. Slowly behaviour is changing, accountability and awareness is growing. In a world with so much media-chatter we need to continue to harness this energy and awareness to make change happen. There are individuals and groups out there hoping that this is temporary, that we will get tired, that this is a phase. We need to shout louder to reinforce that our campaign for women’s rights is not transitory.
Our vision is a world where we as an organisation don’t have to exist, but the reality is that right now we do. We change the lives of women and girls in London by being here for them when they need us most. Today on human rights day, on any day for that matter, help us by showing your support in any way that you can.
• Be a social media supporter and join the conversation - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn & Instagram
• Make a noise when we campaign for change
• Sign-up for our newsletter so we can keep in touch
• Become a fundraiser or make a donation
• Give some time and volunteer
Anything you do for us will help women and children in London who are dealing with the worst forms of domestic and sexual violence you can imagine. We know that activism can change the world, let’s keep reminding others through our deeds and words. We will not be silent.