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Enable opportunities to support

my government is also introducing women in decision-making. My parliament has 45% women”

Enabling opportunities can take many different forms, but at the core of this approach is recognising that women and girls do not live in a vacuum, but rather we are all part of a very complex and interlinked web of existence. In order for women to be able to use skills conferred through education programmes or confidence found in empowerment programmes, there must be opportunities carved out within their communities. To address VAWG, enabling opportunities means creating a society which supports victim/survivors through access to services and resources, access to justice, and access to economic independence.

It also means ensuring that women’s voices are present around the decision-making table, as women are more likely to prioritise gender sensitive issues such as VAWG in government policies and budgets. For example, as the quote above highlights, the number of female MPs in Rwanda is the highest in the world. This gender balance at the decision-making table has led to incredibly positive policy outcomes, such as the new Law on the Prevention, Protection, and Punishment of any Gender-Based Violence [1].

Enabling opportunities, generally, focusses more on support for victim/survivors than primary prevention. In this way, women and girls who have experienced violence are supporting to overcome their experiences and rebuild their lives. Working with domestic violence shelters or providing skills training to victim/survivors gives these women the support they need to take control over their lives, perhaps for the first time, and begin to heal and rebuild. While it is of course imperative to work on primary prevention programmes to try to eliminate violence in the first place, it is equally imperative to recognise that gender-based violence has reached epidemic proportions. There are millions of women and girls who may need assistance and support to overcome the experience of violence in their lives. Enabling the opportunities for them to do so is an incredibly important aspect of addressing VAWG.

1. Action Aid Report: Destined to Fail, 2010, p.38

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