The International Women’s Day is a global celebration, which remembers and honors the presence and achievements of women worldwide without regard to division. As women and men, young people and adults gather today to support and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, it is also a good opportunity to reflect on the connection between inequality and violence.
Violence should be analyzed as an institution on its own right. Gender inequality and violence against women have been recently described as “two sides of the same coin” by UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Violence against women flourishes in the context of inequality, discrimination, and marginalization. In broader terms, it grows in a social context that justifies and fosters inequality. The European Institute for Gender Equality defined violence against women as “the most brutal manifestation of gender inequality”.
Since violence against women is present in all the societies across the world, a complex of reasons shed light on this phenomenon. Structural reasons point to lack of public policies. Cultural motives originate in established stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. Social motives are founded in the traditional organization of societies which marginalize the victims. Personal motives may stem from the life-story of the perpetrator, his criminological profile and personality, as well as from the perpetrator’s illusion that his identity will be reinforced through violent action.
Another example of gender violence is femicide, which is the most extreme form of violence against women. The word is an effort in sociological imagination. It indicates that killing a woman is a very different social event from killing a man. The motivation and social circumstances are diverse, and the relationship between perpetrator and victim is very different, too: women are mostly killed in the context of and intimate relationship or in the family setting. A sense of ownership of the woman is often mingled with anger and contempt (Corradi et al., 2016). We need new words and new notions to grasp new social phenomena.
In this regard, the International Women’s Day we are celebrating today, March 8, is a crucial opportunity for shedding light on the gender inequalities that are still persistent worldwide, and even in European societies. The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report claims that gender equality is over 200 years away. It analyzes 144 Countries focusing on four main topics: Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, and Political Empowerment.
March 8, the International Women’s Day, is therefore a milestone in our project. In some social situations, which we want to focus on and understand, violence defines gender relations. Our aim is to cooperate in creating a social and cultural context in which there is no room and no justification for violence.
We are committed to countering intimate partner and dating violence. We want to prevent violence in interpersonal relations, which may occur very early in teenagers’ lives, and we are dedicated to promoting protective factors, such as trust, recognition of diversity, and mutual respect and friendship. Standing up for gender equality, respect and mutual recognition is a way to prevent dating violence!
Corradi, C., Marcuello-Servos, C., Boira, S., & Weil, S. (2016). Theories of femicide and their significance for social research. Current sociology, 64 (7), 975-995.
S. Walby, J. Towers, S. Balderston, C. Corradi, B. Francis, M. Heiskanen, K. Helweg-Larsen, L. Mergaert, P. Olive, E. Palmer, H. Stockl, S. Strid, The concept and measurement of violence against women and men, Bristol Policy Press, 2017.