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Op-Ed by Ambassador Gilmour
December 4, 2023


Man with glasses poses in front of American flag
Picture of David R. Gilmour

November 25, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women marks the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence that culminates with Human Rights Day on December 10. These two markers symbolize what we know to be true: achieving gender equality is not possible without addressing gender-based violence, a human rights abuse that holds back women and girls in all their diversity from fully and safely participating in social, economic, and political life. Ultimately, gender-based violence harms all of us, regardless of who experiences it, and prevents our communities from reaching their full potential.

What does it mean for us to put anti-violence values into practice each day, in all aspects of our lives? What does it look like for government, civil society, business, and every part of society to say that enough is enough – we will no longer tolerate gender-based violence?

These are questions we should all be asking ourselves in our homes, our communities, and our countries. Gender-based violence continues unabated in every region of the world, at all levels of society. The United States is committed to addressing this vast and complex problem that limits the ability of survivors of gender-based violence to fully enjoy their rights in the United States and around the world. We recognize the critical linkages between gender equality—including prevention and response to gender-based violence—and democracy, national security, economic security, climate change, global public health, and human rights. This is why, over the last two years, the United States has prioritized development and implementation of the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality and updated the U.S. Strategy to Prevent & Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally and U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security.

In the last several years, the U.S. Embassy in Malabo has worked to partner with existing public and private organizations to address the root causes of gender-based violence. These joint initiatives have encompassed a range of projects, such as building organizational capacity to provide education and services to individuals affected by gender-based violence (GBV) and projects that provide support for victims of human trafficking, which disproportionately impacts women and girls.

Research shows that countries with higher rates of gender-based violence suffer more frequently from conflict, instability, lack of adherence to the rule of law, low educational attainment, economic underdevelopment, and health crises, among other challenges. Addressing and preventing gender-based violence creates more peaceful and stable societies.

It’s crucial that in our collective efforts we understand the full gender-based violence continuum – where, when, and how it occurs – and take steps to ensure access to life-saving services for all survivors. Prevention of gender-based violence also requires that we promote justice and accountability for these acts and establish an enabling environment – rather than a limiting one – for all survivors of gender-based violence to thrive.

This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document affirming that every human being is born free and equal in dignity and rights, and that these rights exist without distinction of any kind. The U.S. Embassy calls upon governments, civil society, private sector companies, and individuals to join us in creating a world where all people are valued and respected.

Let us act urgently to scale up what we know works to prevent gender-based violence; to promote gender equality; strengthen laws and end impunity; to use survivor-centered, trauma-informed, evidence-based approaches to our policy and programmatic work, locally and globally; and to always keep survivors front and center in everything we do.