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Violence and abuse haunt women globally

by Vivienne Porritt @ViviennePorritt

The images and the experiences of women and children in Gaza shock the whole world and yet it continues and is worse each day. Looking globally, we see a picture of women's rights being systematically eroded and I certainly wonder what else can we do?

We must do all we can when we read the details of life in Gaza and such overbearing pain:

'the true scale of the maternal mortality, infant mortality and pregnancy loss crisis is certainly larger than even aid and news organisation reports suggest'. (Malik, N, 2024).

Today, the English disruptive group Led by Donkeys graphically showed the level of loss by depicting it as a line of clothes across Bournemouth Beach. It's unthinkable yet we must see it (warning - disturbing images).

Only 26 countries have a woman who serves as a Head Of State (UN Women, 2024). We are certain this number must increase and that leaders must show more humanity and empathy in their roles. That's a long-term goal and in the meantime: 

Women in Iran suffer domestic violence with thousands of marriages of girls aged between 10 and 14 each year and continuing systemic discrimination in law and practice. 

In Afghanistan, women do not have any hope for the future:

'Nothing worse than this can happen, that's why I'm speaking out," the girl says. "And I thought maybe if I speak out, something will change.' (Limaye, 2023)

Globally, 4.4 million girls are currently at risk of female genital mutilation (UN Women) and being a female takeaway rider in China in a largely male occupation with crude stereotypes comes with a risk of violence and daily abuse (Vass, 2024).

How much more can women take?

WomenEd has just delivered our new book to our publishers and it is structured around our four campaigns.

The authors of the Diversity section share the anger - we are still being abused because of our sex - sharing their experiences of being disrespected, treated unfairly, being denied, or losing their leadership roles, and overall losing their voice.They also share the passion and hope that sustains them in their work in education and we are proud to support many global majority women into leadership through the development opportunities, support, and coaching with which WomenEd engage.

There is a pernicious continuum of bias, discrimination, abuse and violence towards women and this systemic inequality needs to be rooted out wherever any woman is and this is the purpose of WomenEd, especially where marginalised women need to save their dignity, their children and their lives.

Women globally, and especially in Gaza right now, need our voices and our actions to be heard and felt.

I will write to my MP saying what I have shared today and I will call for more aid and safe passage.

  • I will increase my subscription to UN Women.
  • I will use my voice to cry out for safety for women.
  • WomenEd, as a charity for women in education, will look for what we can do for women in Gaza.

'The details coming out of Gaza are so graphic, so relentless, that now may be the time to think about what progressive values, feminist or otherwise, really mean if they stop at the threshold of what is familiar.' (Malik, N, 2024).

What can you, and we, do to disrupt this horror?


Limaye, 2023, BBC

Malik, N, 2024, The Guardian

Led By Donkeys, 2024, Twitter

Vass, S, 2024, The Conversation

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Friday, 01 March 2024

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