February 27, 2020
Mendy Marsh, Co-founder and Executive Director
A powerful man has been found guilty for his violent crimes against women. Despite being 25 years on from the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the most progressive blueprint ever for advancing women’s rights, many still believed it wouldn’t happen. For years survivors, employees and journalists, have faced an asymmetry of power that punished them and privileged this abuser.
To get to this point women have faced sorrow, disbelief, shame and vitriol. Many have been blamed for putting themselves in a situation to be exploited, most have been re-traumatized by sharing their experiences in pursuit of justice.
Women in the United States have fought and failed to get justice for the violence they have experienced. This is a tragedy. All women and girls, be they in the United States or in an emergency context, need to have a voice, to be listened to, to have their concerns acted upon and to have resources to be free of violence and abuse. This is why we created VOICE. Less than $2 a person is spent on programs to prevent violence against women in girls in some of the most difficult and challenging contexts in the world, where we undoubtably know violence against women and girls is a significant problem. There is very little specialist funding and expertise to ensure that women and girls are listened to and that individuals and organizations are held to account for the impact that they have.
A powerful man will be punished for his crimes against women. However, in this world, be it in the United States or in a conflict- or disaster-affected situation, women and girls continue to face power dynamics that leave them vulnerable and open to abuse and exploitation. The judgement this week should be a symbol of hope and a crack in the belief that influential men can avoid consequences for their behavior. It should be normal that when women, girls and their allies speak up there are structures in place that support them and give them choices and opportunities for justice.
As many people in the development and humanitarian sectors will be meeting in New York for the 64th Commission on the Status of Women from March 9-20th, I call for us to take actions that will move the world forward to a future that shifts accountability from the victim and survivor to the people and the institutions that are accountable for these egregious acts. We need a strong global commitment to giving a platform to the voices and needs of women and girls whose experiences deserve to be heard and recognized all over the world.
Photo credit: Teller Report