Around the world, many women and girls experience violence and harassment from their families, their partners and in their communities. Violence against women and girls increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Global conflict, the impacts of climate change, a global hunger crisis, rising costs and attacks on women’s rights and women-led organizations have all threatened women’s safety.
All women deserve to be and feel safe. It is a fundamental human right. When women fear for their safety, they cannot live happy, healthy lives. They cannot exercise their rights or make decisions about their own lives. They cannot properly support themselves and their families or contribute to strengthening their communities when they fear for their safety.
Why invest in women’s safety?
While women’s safety is often at risk in many situations, it most often is during and after emergencies where they face the greatest risk. Many women experience violence, including sexual violence and harassment, and girls are often forced into marriage at a young age.
In many parts of the world, women’s safety is often an afterthought or not considered at all. As they are often responsible for feeding and taking care of their families, women and girls often walk long distances to get water or other necessities, which puts them at risk of theft or violence. Basic toilets pose a safety risk if everyone is sharing and there are no locks on doors, especially if women and girls must use them in the dark. Often decisions about safety are made by men without even consulting women, let alone ensuring they’re involved in decision-making.
Lack of safety at school, or in circumstances where they are forced into early marriage means that girls face significant social, physical and economic impacts throughout their lives.
Violence against women and girls increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic and is worsening by the pressures of an ongoing global hunger catastrophe fueled by climate change, lack of resources, and increased costs. This violence is rooted in gender inequality—and without addressing inequality, women will continue to be both hungry and at risk of violence.
Women’s rights and women-led organizations around the world are leading efforts to support survivors, challenge patriarchal practices, and advance gender equality. But so many are unable to access the support they need.
Safety is a basic human right. When women and girls are safe, they do amazing things, creating a ripple effect that goes on to impact others.
How we support women’s safety
CARE works in partnership with women-led and women’s rights organizations to reduce the risk of violence against women, prevent it, and support survivors.
Women’s safety is a key component and cross-cutting in all aspects of our work, from how we respond to emergencies, support women’s health and livelihoods, and of course throughout our advocacy efforts.
We support initiatives that involve women early and at all stages of planning and implementing ways to keep them safe. We engage men and boys to be champions for women’s safety and address the attitudes and beliefs that perpetuate violence against women.
We work to keep women and girls safe by:
- Preventing early and forced marriage
- Providing safe spaces, counselling and support to women and girls who have experienced traumatic situations
- Ensuring women are safe in the workplace
- Engaging men and boys as they are crucial in preventing violence and harassment
- Engaging youth to stop the cycle of violence before it starts
- Build or repair infrastructure like toilets so they are safe for women and girls, and ensure that food, water and other necessities are closer to home
- Providing cash directly to women so they can decide what they, their families, etc. need
- Engaging women and girls in education and training so they can increase their confidence, earn an income independently, and know their rights
- Investing in women’s leadership! Ensuring women’s voices are heard and their needs are considered in everything we do