Issue in Focus
Gender-based violence, or violence against women and girls, is a severe violation of human rights. Violence not only negatively affects women; it also affects their families, communities and countries. It knows no national or cultural barriers; it takes place at home, in the workplace and in open spaces, and affects millions of women and girls in peacetime and in conflict. Gender-based violence includes psychological, physical and sexual violence, and harmful practices such as intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, child marriage, female genital mutilation and human trafficking, according to UN Women.
- 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
- 30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner.
- 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner.
- The first sexual experience of some 30 percent of women was forced. 45% of those under 15 at the time of their sexual initiation report the experience was forced.
- Children who grow up in families where there is violence may suffer a range of behavioral and emotional disturbances. These can also be associated with perpetrating or experiencing violence later in life.
Zonta in Action
Zonta International envisions a world in which no woman lives in fear of violence. For 100 years, we have contributed to help achieve a world free of violence against women and girls through service and advocacy. Though many countries have laws against domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence, there are challenges in implementing these laws.
We have a history of partnering with United Nations agencies or recognized NGOs on programs that promote and protect the human rights of all women and girls and reduce the incidence of violence. Zonta International currently supports the Global Programme to End Child Marriage, which brings together governments, civil society, families and young people in a collective effort to prevent girls from marrying too young and to support those already married as girls. Read more about the projects we have supported through the Zonta International Strategies to end Violence Against Women program.
Our ongoing advocacy impact is built around the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women advocacy campaign. Launched in 2012, the campaign has raised awareness of the global pandemic of women’s rights violations and has united Zonta clubs worldwide in conducting impactful advocacy actions to fight violence against women and gender inequality.
During the 16 Days of Activism, 25 November-10 December, all Zonta clubs and districts are encouraged to take part in the Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign and to take local, national and international actions to influence the making and implementation of laws, as well as changing gender-based attitudes and behaviors to end violence against women.
Throughout the year, we encourage our members to take advocacy actions that work to promote the human rights of women, promote Sustainable Development Goal No. 5 “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” and end violence against women and girls.
In addition, the Zonta International Advocacy Action Center is a tool for our members in the United States and other individuals who share our commitment to gender equality to take action to improve the lives of women and girls. U.S. residents are invited to join more than 8,000 advocates across the nation to fight for legislation to address issues such as child marriage, Title IX and sexual assault on college and university campuses.