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White Ribbon Day, 25th November - ending violence against women

Louise Allain, 25th November 2013

"When women are given the opportunity to become financially independent, they create jobs, rise up as leaders in their communities and re-invest profits in their children's welfare. Eliminating discrimination against women is a strategy that will move global development progress forward." Cherie Blair

Today marks' the anniversary of the hideous assassination in 1960 of three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Violence against women is still one of the highest perpetrated crimes against human rights; many communities and organizations come together on 25th November, White Ribbon Day, to say no to violence against women.

In a speech at the Longford Lecture last night, Bianca Jagger spoke passionately about the need to end violence and inequality against women and to halt what she called the 'culture of impunity' whereby world leaders need to find the missing Millennium Goal of 'eliminating violence against women'.

It is not an issue confined to any particular part of the world, and obviously is more mobilized now since the migration of people from the developing to the developed world. Just this week we saw the horrifying issue of 3 women kept in conditions of slavery right here in Central London.

In general violence against women is caused by deeply entrenched patterns within societies. Also, being abused is not just physical, not merely a single action but can be a combination of factors such as economic, psychological or possibly physical that mean the individual is ensnared in a situation that is hard to escape or move on from.

This is why Cherie Blair puts so much emphasis on enabling women to have financial independence. "When women are given the opportunity to become financially independent, they create jobs, rise up as leaders in their communities and re-invest profits in their children's welfare. Eliminating discrimination against women is a strategy that will move global development progress forward."

Cherie's words were in response to the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon's Message for 2013 regarding the need for reeducation on attitudes towards women. The Secretary General has also given a message for this year's International Day for Violence Against Women, encouraging all to challenge the violence and aggression still prevalent towards women in all societies.

Next week in London, the Trust Women Conference will convene for a further meeting of it's trustees and speakers to discuss issues such as the reality of prosecuting violence against women, and the impact of the Arab Spring on women's rights in the countries involved. No society can claim any sophisticate approach to human rights when so many of the world's female population are still no more than a chattel.