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United in Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls

particpants at Ikiama Nukuri program

When women and girls participate in all aspects of life without the fear of violence, we unlock their ability to become catalysts for progress. Around the world, local communities work hand-in-hand with Peace Corps Volunteers to prevent gender-based violence. We do that by addressing the root causes of violence, empowering community members to tackle power imbalances and enhance their skills for sustainable behavior change.

In recognition of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we’re sharing how Peace Corps is investing in programs that lay the foundation for a global environment where women and girls can thrive.

Supporting the next generation of women, Indigenous leaders

Healing circles are a way for participants in the Ikiama Nukuri program to discuss sensitive topics such as GBV.
Healing circles are a way for participants in the Ikiama Nukuri program to discuss sensitive topics such as GBV.

In Ecuador, the Indigenous Achuar and Shuar communities partner with Peace Corps Volunteers, health care workers, and other service providers through the Ikiama Nukuri program, meaning “Women as Guardians of the Forest” in the Achuar language. The program focuses on addressing gender-based violence at different levels.

One aspect of the program focuses on youth, bringing together young people across these communities to learn about gender equity, how to support it, and how to incorporate healthy behaviors about gender within themselves. Achuar and Shuar Maternal Health Promoters harness their local wisdom and are matched with support from Volunteers and counterparts as part of these workshops. Another aspect of the program works with Indigenous men, facilitating crucial conversations on gender-based violence and how it can detrimentally impact family and community well-being. The program also supports women’s roles in addressing gender-based violence and other important issues facing Indigenous communities. As a result of this work, we’re now seeing more women in leadership roles and the Achuar and Shuar men more accepting of women leaders in their communities.

Girls Leading Our World

In August 1995, Peace Corps Romania Volunteers Sara Goodkind, Jennifer Bobb Petramale, Roz Edison and their counterpart teachers took 80-teen-aged girls to a mountain campsite for a week-long leadership camp. The purpose of the camp was to encourage the girls to become active citizens and focused on building self-esteem, confidence, and assertiveness. Camp GLOW, “Girls Leading Our World,” was born.

For more than 20 years, Volunteers around the world have been leading camps like these in their communities, teaching young girls about goal setting, career planning, and even self-awareness. Events like these challenge participants to think outside traditional gender roles and spur eye-opening conversations about the unique societal and health issues that women and girls face. With the impact Camp GLOW has had on young girls, Volunteers have created youth camps based off this model like Camp BRO “Boys Respecting Others” and STOMP “Supporting Teamwork Opening Minds Positively.”

boys and young men at the Ngeny Special School for the Hearing Impaired participate in a GBV prevention workshop.
Boys and young men at the Ngeny Special School for the Hearing Impaired in Kenya participate in activities that promote positive masculinity.

Boys and men as partners

At the Ngeny Special School for the Hearing Impaired in Kenya, Peace Corps Volunteers and their counterparts are invested in ensuring the message of ending gender-based violence gets to hard-to-reach communities. Teachers and trainers facilitate activities with young boys and men to get involved, using visual teaching aids in Kenyan Sign Language.

Together, they discuss the cycle of violence, how men are victims of violence, and how we can all work at reducing the impact of violence in our communities. This includes teaching young boys about healthy relationships, communication, sexual consent, and emotional expression. By providing models of positive masculinity to young boys and men, we’re showing how everyone plays a role in tackling gender-based violence.

These examples show how Peace Corps is working around the world so women and girls can contribute to their communities without the threat of violence. This year, we stand united with partners the world over on this critical issue. Because when women and girls are empowered to reach their fullest potential, we all benefit.