IFES Stands with Those Working to End Gender-Based Violence

Sunday, November 25, marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) takes this opportunity to reaffirm its support for those who work to prevent and respond to all forms of gender-based violence.

IFES believes that a society is able to reach its full potential in a world in which men and women are fully engaged as equal partners in their families, workplaces and communities. Based on international human rights standards and best practices, IFES promotes political participation, justice and equal rights for women and men around the world.

IFES commends all individuals, organizations and advocates who work toward the prevention and elimination of violence against women and joins with them to raise its voice for peace and prosperity for all. Over the next two weeks, our partners around the world will engage in activities designed to raise public awareness of gender-based violence, culminating in the celebration of International Human Rights Day on December 10.

Ending impunity for those who commit gender-based violence is critical. Governments must be pressured to prosecute responsible individuals and change laws to protect women and guarantee gender equality. Men and women must continue to denounce deep-rooted legal and cultural strongholds of gender discrimination, and take responsibility for ending brutal abuse that is not only a clear violation of women’s human rights, but also the cause of endemic health and social problems for all society.

For instance, in the Middle East and North Africa, although women played a major role in the uprisings that ushered in new regimes, they continue to face severe discrimination, marginalization and underrepresentation in elected bodies and governments. To move beyond years of dictatorship, political turmoil and the recent armed conflicts, and build stable and peaceful democracies, the people of the Arab world must make the transition process both inclusive and representative.

Inclusion must extend beyond the presence of a few women in decision-making forums. Women must have real and meaningful opportunities to lead in order to advance the whole of society. IFES believes that women must be truly represented in public and political life, and gender parity must be achieved in policy and practice. Only then will entrenched patterns of advantage and disadvantage based on socially ascribed gender roles dissipate and violence against women decline.