Trigger warning: violence against women
God has placed a burning desire on my heart to work for gender equality and to end violence against women. And this desire has got me in quite a bit of trouble of late…
I’ve launched a campaign for the UK Government to get serious about ending violence against women by ratifying the Istanbul Convention on violence against women and domestic violence.
‘The what?!’ I hear you say.
You wouldn’t be the first. If you’ve heard of the Istanbul Convention, you’re in a minority. The full title of the Istanbul Convention certainly doesn’t roll of the tongue… but that’s because it covers a lot of critical ground, setting out a comprehensive set of practical, concrete standards for how countries should prevent and combat violence against women.
If the UK Government accepted the Istanbul Convention as law in the UK, the Government would be legally required to provide sufficient services, including refugees and sexual violence referral centres, for women and girls who have experienced violence - at the moment such services are in crisis. The UK Government would also be legally required to invest in tackling the root causes of violence against women, namely gender inequality, sexism and gender stereotypes - at the moment such initiatives are rare and limited in reach. What is more, the Government would have to invest in training professionals and in national education about violence against women, its causes and consequences - again, an area where we need to be doing a lot better.
Pretty amazing, isn’t it? And that’s why the Istanbul Convention has been heralded as the 'gold standard' for tackling violence against women by UN Women, 'ground-breaking' by Human Rights Watch, and has won awards for its brilliance.
So it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? Definitely something we want ASAP in the UK? I’m afraid not. Only last week the Prime Minister said his government wouldn't ratify the Convention before the elections, even though he had promised that the government would - on more than one occasion.
So I’ve decided to take action and call for national change.
I’ve joined forces with a friend to launch a campaign calling on the UK Government to get serious about ending violence against women by ratifying the Istanbul Convention. It’s called the IC change campaign because we’re fighting for the ground-breaking change that the Istanbul Convention will bring if made law in the UK.
I’m fed up of hearing about life-saving services having to shut down in the UK. I’m fed up of hearing stories at the Rape Crisis centre where I volunteer about women having to travel over an hour to reach our services because there is a national shortage. And I’m fed up of constantly living under the threat of violence - simply because of my gender.
Now back to my initial invitation - will you join me on an adventure, on this adventure?
We want to seize the opportunity of the upcoming elections to make this a priority for politicians but we are only a very small team of 2-4 people working on this voluntarily in addition to our full time commitments. We need your help!
Can you sign the campaign petition? Can you share it on Facebook and Twitter? Can you tell all your networks about it? Can you pray? There are many ways that you can get involved.
Find out more on our campaign website: www.icchange.co.uk.
To keep up-to-date, follow us on Twitter via @ICchangeUK and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ICchangeUK.
Whatever you do, please join me on this adventure and let’s make history for women across the UK!
Robyn Boosey is co-founder of the #ICchange campaign and Campaigns Associate at Tearfund. She has a background in gender equality, international development and human rights, including with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. She also loves French and Spanish grammar a bit too much. Her Twitter handle is @_RobynB