On the 25th of November, ActionAid NL will host a programme titled ‘Grenzeloos Geweld’, which translates into ‘Borderless Violence’, featuring speakers like Anja Meulenbelt, Nondumiso Nsibande and Alejandra Ortiz. Did you know that more than 1/3 of all women worldwide experience violence? Gender-based violence takes place on the street, at home and in the supply-chains of our everyday utensils. Think of clothes, your phone or coffee. For many women, the threat of violence keeps them at home, missing out on work and education. It’s time to take a stand.

“Nowhere in the world, there is a society in which women are fully in control about all aspects of their life,” says Anja Meulenbelt, feminist and ambassador for the ‘Grenzeloos Geweld’-week. “In the Netherlands, violence against women mainly happens in the home, but we must stand in solidarity with women everywhere in the world. Groping on the street, overturning abortion laws, intimidating women in the workplace – this is all violence against women. ActionAid recognizes the many shapes violence against women takes and helps to empower women globally. We work with women everywhere to identify the changes they want to see and how to achieve them. In addition to training on leadership-skills and vouching for women’s rights in local communities, we work with the entire community, including men, to empower women. According to Anja Meulenbelt, one of the speakers on the 25th, “Solidarity across borders is essential.”

Another speaker taking the stage on Friday 25 of November is Alejandra Ortiz, who will read from her debut, ‘De waarheid zal me bevrijden’, a non-fiction book about her life fleeing from gender-based violence as a transgender woman. “Violence against women is pretty normalized in Mexico. Women are supposed to be subjugated to men, husbands feel ownership over their wives and children. In some instances, people even tell each other that when your husband physically or mentally abuses you, he does so because he loves you.” Alejandra was a witness to violence against her mother, other relatives, trans-friends and she is a survivor herself, hoping to find refuge in the Netherlands, a country she expected to be safe for trans people like her. The reality was different. “There is no gender equality. Not in the Netherlands, not anywhere. Women’s rights – trans women’s specifically – are always under attack. We always have to keep defending them.”

ActionAid ambassador Geraldine Kemper states that this programme is important to visit: “It is necessary to keep gender-based violence on the public agenda and have conversations about it – to break the taboo, to take away the guilt and shame around this topic.” She has seen this guilt and shame first-hand, by making a television show ‘5 days inside’ in which she visited a women’s shelter and listened to the stories of violence. “Men see violence against women as a women’s problem – but violence against women starts with men. Women’s rights are being violated by men.” That’s why Geraldine urges men specifically to sign up for this event and educate themselves on a problem they can be part of the solution to. “There is a lot to be gained from men’s involvement – it needs to dawn on everyone how structural this problem is,” according to Geraldine.

The programme of the evening does not end there. ActionAid director in South Africa and women’s rights expert Nondumiso Nsibande explains what ActionAid is doing on the ground to empower South African women. Speaker Sara Dekker-Alaoui talks about taking care of (bicultural) women who have survived gender-based violence and Tessel ten Zweege calls attention to the realities of domestic abuse and countless other speakers will contribute to our fight against violence against women. Will you be there? Save the date and sign up here for this programma on the 25th of November!

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