Part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is to call for global action to increase awareness, galvanise advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovations. Today I want to acknowledge two women’s movements/projects and their leadership / two organisations I have had the pleasure to spend time with that work hard on preventing and ending violence against women and girls in general.

I witnessed the work of both organisations through my time working for All We Can.

I have purposely not named or used an image that can identify the women in this photograph. She was one of the many women using a safe space I visited and had experienced horrific physical violence at the hand of her partner. She had been able to get support in the safe space and was on the long road to physical and emotional recovery.

Firstly, in a small corner of Bangladesh, in Cox’s Bazar, nearly a million Rohingya Refugees have sought refuge. More than half are women and girls. Many of these women and girls experienced sexual violence in conflict in Myanmar, many more are exposed to the risks of early marriage, rape and trafficking now that they are in the refugee camps. All We Can supports the establishment of women’s safe spaces in the camps. Part of this provision is access to counselling and advice for any woman or girl. The spaces are peaceful places of socialisation, rehabilitation and rest. They are also spaces for the women and girls to simply be with one another – as one woman put it, by being together they can “share each other’s tears.”

Violence can come in many forms. Social isolation and the prospect of early marriage are real problems for millions of girls worldwide. Identity kept hidden.

Secondly, I have visited a few times the work of the Srijan Foundation in Jharkhand, India. This is one of All We Can’s long-term development partner organisations. They support women and teenage girls’ self-help groups but also vital legal services for women who have been subject to domestic violence. Importantly, they also work with men, local authority and village leaders to change gender stereotypes, stigma and ultimately systems that ensnare women.

Visit All We Can’s website to find out more about their work to promote gender equality and to end violence against women. I am a regular giver to All We Can, one of the reasons is knowing how important this work is to the organisation.