A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Why does Violence Against Women happen? What does it have to do with development? What does Oxfam do to end violence against women? What does it mean to do that work with a transformative approach?
Oxfam’s Gender Justice team’s latest initiative, a guide titled “Ending Violence Against Women: A Guide for Oxfam Staff,” addresses these questions, in order to provide our staff with a common approach and understanding around the complex issue of ending violence against women. While the guide is directed towards Oxfam staff, it is available to our partners for their use as well.
Oxfam envisions a safe and just world, where women and girls gain power over every aspect of their lives and live free from violence. This is a fundamental prerequisite to the autonomy and empowerment of women and girls. Violence against women (VAW) is a violation of women’s rights, a barrier to women’s active citizenship, and hence, a fundamental constraint to poverty alleviation.
We must also examine our own deep culture as an organizationEXERCISE: Think of the forms of violence against women that are common in your own country. What do they have to do with power and with the expectations of your society from women and men, girls and boys respectively?
An exercise box from the guide
In order to do this work, we must also examine our own deep culture as an organization and the personal perspectives and cultural understandings we bring to our work. As a diverse confederation with thousands of staff and volunteers from different countries, cultures and religious affiliations, ensuring a consistent approach to VAW work can sometimes be a challenge. This new guide, which draws upon Oxfam’s extensive work towards gender justice at the country and global level, is designed to serve as a focal point for those conversations.
The guide can be viewed and downloaded here (and will be available in other languages soon). We hope you will read the guide, discuss the questions and exercises with your colleagues, and let us know in the comments box how you’ve found it useful.
The guide was compiled by Michaela Raab, and commissioned by the Oxfam Gender Justice Program Development and Support Group (GJ PDS), which provides operational leadership and support to the development of gender justice programming and the strengthening of gender justice perspectives and processes in global, regional and country programs.