OPINION: New York City prepares to stand up to gender-based violence
At the same time that millions of Americans were glued to their televisions yesterday as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford delivered compelling testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the alleged sexual assault committed against her by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the members of the New York City Commission on Gender Equity convened at Queens Borough Hall to discuss how residents can prevent, reduce and eliminate gender-based violence.
That these two hearings happened simultaneously could not have been planned in advance, nor could it have been more appropriate. Ford held back tears as she described how the alleged assault, which she said occurred when she was just 15-years-old, has impacted her life.
The work of the Commission on Gender Equity cannot be driven solely by statistics, as compelling as the data from around the world is. Ford brought the problem of gender-based violence home and made the pain real to at least some of the more skeptical among us. Whether or not her testimony will impact the appointment of Kavanaugh remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, the commission in New York said its session yesterday will guide community organizations, business owners, faith-based leaders and nonprofits in preparing to participate participate in November’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an annual global campaign that runs from Nov. 25 through Dec. 10. The campaign is intended to put the spotlight on the far-reaching consequences of gender-based violence. It brings together government, community, corporate and philanthropic sectors to dialogue and develop strategies to eliminate gender-based violence.
The commission held information sessions about taking part in campaign in Brooklyn and Queens, as well as the other boroughs. For further information about local events, readers are invited to visit the commission’s website.
According to Executive Director Jacqueline Ebank, the Commission on Gender Equity aims “to create a city where all New Yorkers have opportunities to be economically secure, have access to quality and affordable health care and full autonomy over their reproductive lives and live safely in their homes, at their places of work and in their communities.”
The world is listening. The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is supported by U.S. Embassies and Consulates around the globe in an effort to integrate gender and women’s empowerment into all areas of U.S. foreign policy.
The United Nations reports that one in three women worldwide experience gender-based violence.
In its DIPNOTE blog, the U.S. Department of State explains that, “in some societies, the shame and stigma surrounding GBV causes women and girls to suffer abuse in silence and therefore the severity of the problem goes underreported.
“In many places, effective solutions require greater educational engagement with men and boys about the toll such GBV plays in everyone’s lives, regardless of gender.”
We would like to believe we are turning the corner on the perception of gender violence here at home. Just this week, famed comedian Bill Cosby was sentenced to prison for sexual assault. His reputation had already been destroyed by his many credible accusers. Perhaps men who would abuse women will learn that accountability extends far beyond the statute of limitations.
We wish the New York City organizers and organizers around the world of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence every success in getting their message out.
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