Using our collective voice for change

The International Violence Against Women Act is one of several important pieces of legislation around the world needed to stop stoning, rape, assault and other forms of inhumane and degrading treatment of women around the world. 

By Marsha Wallace

DFW’s 10th Anniversary celebration inspired us in many ways, not the least of which was the realization that in addition to collective giving, we can use our collective voice for change. Make no mistake, our voice is needed! We must use all the tools at our disposal to raise awareness and ask others to join us in demonstrating our opposition to violence against women.

Consider the petition launched by Avaaz.org to stop a bill recently passed by the Lower House of Afghan Parliament that would ban aggressors’ family members from testifying in court. Countless women and girls, like Sahar Gul, married at age 12, beaten and abused mercilessly by her in-laws, would be unable to have witnesses from the family of their aggressors testify on their behalf, leaving little hope of justice for her and others like her.

In another global effort, Women Living Under Muslim Law, in collaboration with global partners, launched a campaign calling for an end to stoningChange.org is gathering signatures petitioning the UN Secretary General, calling for an end this brutal form of torture still practiced in 15 countries today.

Women suffer disproportionately from this barbaric form of punishment, often meted out to protect family honor. November 25, 2013 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The goal is to have 10,000 sign the petition to end stoning “as one of the most brutal forms of violence against women and as a form of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”

Last, in our own country, the International Violence Against Women Act was introduced but not passed in the 110th or 111th sessions of the United States Congress. Expectations are that this bill will be reintroduced in the 112th United States Congress this fall, to ensure best practices for preventing violence, protecting victims and prosecuting offenders are included in our nation’s foreign policy.

A DFW strategy for advocacy will be defined, but until then, let’s commit to even the smallest actions, raise our voices and demand change. Remember, advocacy can be as easy as telling your coworker about the prevalence of stoning, or violence against women, “Liking” and sharing a post, petition or relevant article on social media. If you write a letter or visit a legislator, identify yourself as a DFW member. Our collective voice matters.

Marsha Wallace 2013

About the author

Marsha Wallace is the co-founder of Dining for Women. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors, a speaker and passionate advocate for the rights of women and girls around the world.