Each year, the United Nations marks October 11th as The International Day of the Girl Child. It supports women’s empowerment and the achievement of gender equality by highlighting the inequalities and discrimination suffered by girls around the world.
On October 4th, American University’s School of International Service (SIS) hosted the “Day of the Girl Summit,” sponsored by She’s the First, an international organization that sponsors girls’ education in low-income countries, giving them the chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school. US Youth Ambassador and Executive Director of Youth to End Sexual Violence, Joel Davis, was a speaker on the panel, “Preventing Gender-Based Violence.” He was joined by Holly Kearl, a consultant for UN Women and founder of Stop Street Harassment, Malore Dusenbery, the Associate Director of Economic Security at Wider Opportunities for Women, and Daniel Rappaport, the Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator for American University.
The Day of the Girl Summit welcomed leaders from civil society, academia, and government to discuss the feminist voice in politics, women in STEM, and girls' access to education. Importantly, the summit gave Youth to End Sexual Violence an opportunity to meet and connect with young students and activists. We will continue to stand in solidarity against the use of rape and sexual violence in conflict, and pledge to #EndTheSilence.
See below for quotes from the Executive Director of Youth to End Sexual Violence on the panel "Preventing Gender-Based Violence."
In most communities, women are the vital economic actors. When they’re threatened by sexual and gender-based violence, we see agricultural production undermined, resulting in financial loss. Because of economic instability, we can’t provide resources to facilitate children’s access to education. And when you have financial loss in many communities, you also take away the ability for many of them to support vulnerable populations; people who are especially vulnerable to sexual violence include orphans, the disabled, and children born from rape.
Even though rape and sexual violence is among the most intimate of crimes, the effects are not limited to the victim. Families and communities suffer the devastating psychological consequences of rape as a strategy of war, especially when rape is used intentionally to spread diseases or cause pregnancy. We see the social impacts of sexual and gender-based violence when women, and children born of rape are ostracized from their communities. The stigma of sexual violence is especially harmful for male victims of sexual violence who are often unable to access humanitarian services and the justice system.
Rape culture doesn't just include the language we use on day-to-day basis, but also the laws that are in place which can enable or condone rape and sexual violence. For example, many male victims of sexual violence who choose to step forward and report their attack face charges of homosexual conduct being brought upon them. They fear coming forward so they don't. Rape culture is the laws that silence victims of rape, it's the cultural traditions that exacerbate gender inequality, and it's the language we use that is permissive of those inequalities.
For media inquiries, please contact Ms. Alaina Rudnick at firstname.lastname@example.org