On the thirteenth of August this year, Peruvian woman made a stand. They became a multi-generational force to be reckoned with; women who were fed up with the ever-present domestic violence in their country, paired with a general lack of support from judicial powers. From small children to the elderly, they were joined by husbands, brothers, sons and friends who came to the streets of Lima to march in protest of violence against women. This movement, ‘Ni Una Menos’, rallied over 150,000 people from across the country, making it the largest demonstration in Peruvian history, and sparked similar marches and protests in cities around the world.
The problem of violence against women is far from a new one, nor is it confined to a specific culture, country or societal group; it’s a universal issue that pervades the daily lives of women around the globe. This type of violence takes on many forms, including physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and has a lasting and devastating effect on its victims. The emotional, physical and economical effects of violence against women trickle down to their children and families as well, likely creating an ongoing cycle of violence from generation to generation.
According to UN studies, one in three women globally will suffer sexual or physical violence in their lifetime; a figure we can no longer ignore. Violence against women is the inevitable result of discrimination and of persistent inequalities between men and women, but finding a solution is far from impossible. The occurrence of this type of violence is changing as more and more organizations around the world are leveling the playing field for women. Now more than ever, there are organizations worldwide which aim to inspire women and young girls with opportunities for education and practical skills, helping them become independent and self-sufficient.
Here in Peru, the need for assistance is being challenged by organizations who seek to embolden women to help themselves escape abuse. Casa Mantay, one of our partner organizations here in Cusco, is leading the fight to empower young mothers in the region, many of which have been victims of abuse. They provide a healthy and caring living environment where the women can not only heal, but learn the skills they need to live the life they envision for themselves. Another partner organization, the Sacred Valley Project, is making large strides in providing access to education for indigenous young women from low-income families in the more remote areas of the Andes. These girls are provided with safe housing, nutritional meals, tutoring and schooling – a privilege not often awarded to girls in such areas – giving them the tools to become equal and influential leaders in their community. The difference being made by these organizations is undeniable, and many of the young women who’ve benefited from their support are setting a shining example for others within their communities.
With the help of donors, supporters and volunteers, organizations like these here in Peru and around the world are changing the local and global scene for gender equality. More and more people are realizing the immeasurable benefits of supporting such organizations, both within their own community and worldwide. The collective voice of the 150,000 women, children and men heard during the historic march earlier this year is resonating strongly throughout even the most remote corners of the country, and crossing borders. Slowly but surely we are heading towards a world where women are not only viewed as equals, but as leaders, innovators and powerful voices that command respect.