Violence against women is endemic, and it affects women of every class, age, sexuality, race, ability/disability, religion or other background. The main driver of violence against women is gender inequality, which operates on many levels from social and cultural norms to economic and structural injustices.
In Australia, we live in a society where one in three women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and one in five women has experienced sexual violence. This makes the commitment to end violence against women a responsibility for everyone; we all can take steps that will help to eliminate violence against women.
So what can each one of us do? Here are some practical steps and knowledge so your actions to eliminate violence against women will make a positive difference.
Seek help immediately - If you hear or see a violent or abusive situation happening, don't turn your back. If it is safe you could try to defuse the situation by intervening. But if you feel that may be dangerous, or if you think a person is being hurt or about to be hurt, you should ring 000 immediately.
Stay informed and educate yourself - Educate yourself about the causes, drivers and consequences of violence against women. It is important to understand in terms of power dynamics and social structures, rather than just as purely individual experiences.
Violence against women and children occurs within a patriarchal society where male dominance and privilege are normalised. Violence is used as a means of coercion and control over a woman or a partner and has nothing to do with one's personal traits.
In our technology-saturated world, women are subjected to violence through their phone and online too. This includes stalking, control, threats, bullying and image-based abuse both in the context of domestic and family violence and more generally. It is important to know how to use technology carefully to help find safety for yourself and other people who may be subjected to technology-facilitated abuse.
Respond to someone disclosing violence appropriately - If you need to support someone who has disclosed to you the violence inflicted on them, respond appropriately and make sure that she feels supported and encouraged to talk to you and seek help. Listen and believe.
Speak up - Violence is never okay.
Be limitless - Promote and normalise gender equality in public and private life. If you are a parent, bring your kids up with the idea that they are limitless in their potential. Their gender should not determine their future. Promote women's independence and decision-making in public life and relationships.