Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights abuses in the world. In the last few weeks alone there have been numerous high-profile reports of incidents where women have suffered because of their gender.
World Health Organization (WHO) statistics tell us that a third of all women experience physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Globally nearly 1 in 10 women has experienced sexual violence by someone other than a partner. This is nothing short of a global crisis.
This week people from all over the world have come to London for the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, the largest gathering ever on this subject. I will be speaking at a panel event to highlight the need to invest in work to address the root causes and social norms which underpin many forms of violence. Because if we are to stop these practices for good we need to know why they happen in the first place and how they can be prevented.
Currently, there are a lot of gaps in the evidence and data on what the common drivers of behaviour are leading to violence not least because of the sensitive nature of the research and data collection. We need to gather robust evidence that helps us develop effective interventions which deliver large scale results.
That is why DFID is investing £25 million in a global research and innovation programme aimed at building knowledge on ways to prevent violence against women and girls including in conflict and humanitarian situations. The, What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls? programme will also be looking at the economic and social costs of violence against women and girls.
This investment builds on DFID's existing work to support survivors through crucial services, such as comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare; specialised police response; psychosocial support; building political will and institutional capacity; and empowering women and girls through education, skills training and cash assistance to survivors. This includes the UK’s £355 million Girls' Education Challenge (GEC) which has specific interventions to prevent gender based violence in schools.
The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict highlights the need for greater action to preventing and responding to all violence against women and girls. The UK government's Girl Summit 2014 in July will continue to push forward this agenda by tackling 2 more forms of violence against girls which are totemic of female inequality, namely female genital mutilation and early and forced marriage. We hope by ending these practices within a generation we can set a course for ending all gender based violence within a lifetime.