Wales can be a global leader in eradicating violence against women and girls
The White Ribbon Campaign and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, allows us to look at how far we’ve come here in Wales in ending male violence against women and girls, and to strengthen our resolve in taking this work further.
Because, despite some ground-breaking areas of success, such as the Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence Against Women Act 2015, the realities of being a woman here in Wales show that the struggle is far from over.
2017 has been a watershed year when it comes to women speaking out. The year started with worldwide women’s marches, including here in Cardiff, showing just how much women were willing to stand up and fight for what has been long-fought in our recent past, and weren’t willing to lose in their futures.
And the recent #metoo campaign has been a further demonstration of the harassment and abuse that many women experience throughout the entertainment industry and working in politics. The need for strong voices is needed now more than ever.
Young women today face many different challenges from those of previous generations. Recent research from the Young Women’s Trust showed that just one in five young women believe that gender discrimination in the UK will be a thing of the past by the time they are 40. Statistics from Welsh Women’s Aid show that 4.6 million women in England and Wales have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16.
It is also thought that there are 140 victims of FGM in Wales every year and there are up to 100 victims of forced marriage a year in Wales. It is estimated that domestic violence costs Wales £303.5 million annually, with £202.6 million in service costs and £100.9 million to lost economic output which crucially does not take into consideration the human and emotional costs.
That is where the Well-being of Future Generations Act and its focus on prevention can have a real impact. Our office has identified tackling Adverse Childhood Experiences as a key priority for driving this agenda forward.
If we know that those who are themselves victims of violence will be more likely to repeat this behaviour later on in life, there are clear areas for us to focus on in terms of preventative spending and early intervention.
The treatment of women, therefore, is inherently a sustainable development issue and how we consider gender equality and the treatment of women is clearly a priority for now and for future generations.
That can be seen in the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their commitment to ending gender inequality and raising the global living standards of women across the world. Goal 5 is to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’.
As many of you may know, the aims of the Well-being of Future Generations Act are closely aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UN has said that “what Wales does today, the world will do tomorrow.” Wouldn’t it be amazing if Wales led the way for gender equality? To act as global leaders in the face of gender parity and being the first nation to eradicate violence against women.