Taking a stand against sexual violence

22nd of March 2021 | Athens, Greece

International Women's Day celebrated annually on March 8 and was less than two weeks ago. Humanitarian organisations globally made statements defending the rights of women to feel safe and to speak up yet, in this very industry alongside all the others, much more needs to be done.

The last few weeks have been another wake-up call. In Switzerland 78 women working for the media company Tamedia are protesting the sexist work environment they have to endure on a daily basis, 6 Asian women were shot in Atlanta, Sarah Everard disappeared walking home, 3 transgender women were attacked or killed in Turkey in the last weeks whilst Turkey at the same time withdrew from an international treaty protecting women against violence, and only 12 European countries out of the 31 have laws that define rape as sex without consent.

We need to do better and we can start with ourselves. Rape culture is pervasive. It is embedded in the way we think, speak, and interact in this world. Each day women create, build and drive progress across all sectors, yet for millions, the workplace and their homes are often unsafe, abusive and the laws in place are not designed to protect them.

According to the latest report published by WHO on the 9th of March, Violence against women - 1 in 3 (30%) women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.

Rape culture is held up by the lack of laws, their enforcement, and insufficient due diligence from organisations and individuals. It affects us all regardless of gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, race, age, and religion, while certain characteristics make some individuals more vulnerable to violence. An intersectional approach is needed and restrictive definitions need to be examined and reflected upon in order to make space for people to be able to express and define their identity.

We need to eliminate harassment at work and make sure there are systems in place with a survivor-centered approach. We need to stop looking at sexual assault and harassment allegations through a patriarchal, racist and sexist lens. We need to stop questioning, discrediting, and stigmatising people coming forward and focus on creating an environment where individuals can speak up, where their voices are heard, and where the policies and laws in place are there to protect them.

We are committed to starting now. We will ensure Action for Education not only has solid and rigorous mechanisms in place if something happens but that our team is also committed to learning together and continuously; staying informed through training, discussions, working groups, and a clear zero-tolerance policy. We owe it to ourselves, to our participants, to our volunteers and coordinators, our supporters, and survivors worldwide.

We value your input, expertise, and feedback, reach out to any of our coordinators on the ground:

samos@actionforeduaction.org chios@actionforeducation.org info@actionforeducation.org solange@actionforeducation.org jacob@actionforeducation.org

Thank you

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