When women and girls are given equal opportunity and agency, society thrives. This core belief drives our mission to address the root causes of hunger—including gender inequality and gender-based violence. This 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we are highlighting the importance in investing in women to proactively create a safe, more equitable world for all.
What does gender-based violence have to do with hunger?
Women facing discrimination and violence are denied access to food, income and opportunity. When a woman faces violence in or outside of the home, a cycle of poverty and hunger is perpetuated for her and her children.
Time and again we see that, when treated with dignity and given the opportunity to generate and control an income, women routinely invest significant portions of their income in food, healthcare and education for their families. And with the current global food crisis, the world needs more women as key change agents more than ever.
How are we addressing gender-based violence in our work?
Working with Elected Women Representatives in India, we aim to tackle the dual challenges of discrimination based on caste and gender entrenched in society. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that many of these elected women face gender-based violence in their efforts to combat these deeply ingrained inequalities.
Mamta, an elected President of Jayadara panchayat, faced extreme challenges, including threats, intimidation, harassment and even gunpoint encounters, when she entered the panchayat office. The violence against her was a result of the resistance from the ex-president belonging to the dominant caste community.
If I had kneeled, got scared of the gun, had not done anything, what is the point of my being elected as a representative then?
Mamta from India
Despite these obstacles, Mamta refused to back down and took bold actions to ensure her community’s well-being. She exemplifies the determination to reshape local governance.
Mamta is one of the many women who are defying the status quo and working toward an equitable future, confronting gender and caste-based discrimination with courage and resilience.
Similarly, in Bangladesh, our program Brave Girls Halting Child Marriage works with young girls who are at risk for early or child marriage – a path that can significantly increase gender-based violence. Globally, girls married before the age of 15 are 50% more likely to experience either physical or sexual abuse than those married after 18.
Kolpana, a young girl who participated in our program, transformed her own destiny of child marriage to pursuing higher education – a path that can significantly reduce gender-based violence. When she was in ninth grade, her parents had arranged for her to be married, a common practice in many parts of Bangladesh.
I knew I had to stop my marriage.
Kolpana from Bangladesh
Through the knowledge she gained from our program, Kolpana knew that child marriage would halt her education, hinder her dreams of becoming a chartered accountant and ultimately put her life at risk due to the associated dangers of childbirth at a young age.
Our programs strive to dismantle the systemic barriers that have historically disadvantaged groups and promote a more inclusive and equitable society by facilitating access to education, vocational training, and economic opportunities to support individuals to improve their livelihoods and break the cycle of poverty and hunger.
Uniting to end gender-based violence.
At the heart of our work is our commitment to Gender Equality, which creates space for women’s safe participation in their local societies and economies. We advocate for policies that eliminate gender bias and highlight the value of education and empowerment of girls at a young age to reduce child marriages.
The 16 Days of Activism campaign serves as a powerful reminder of our shared commitment to a more equitable world. Real change is possible when we work together with empowered women and girls:
- Invest in programs that elevate women and girls.
- Declare your commitment on social media using #16Days and tag @thehungerproject on social media
- Post photos and videos featuring the color orange and “orange” virtual spaces from 25 November to 10 December. (Orange has been used by UN Women for several years to represent a brighter future, free from violence against women and girls.)
We invite you to be a part of this transformative movement by committing to invest in women and girls. Together, we can make a lasting impact and create a world where the potential of every woman and girl is recognized and fulfilled.
Image: Burkina Faso, 2023; Photo for The Hunger Project