While policies and programs protecting women from violence have improved in the last 20 years, this progress is in danger of not being renewed or funded in the near future, according to a national expert who spoke to students and faculty at East Carolina University on March 2.
Jacquelyn Campbell, an authority on intimate partner violence from Johns Hopkins University, was the keynote speaker for the university’s celebration of International Women’s Day, hosted by the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, the Office for Equity and Diversity, and the women’s studies program. Nearly 70 people attended the event, which was held a few days early since the actual observation on March 8 fell during spring break.
“All around the world, in spite of different cultural norms, what I find is that there are more similarities than differences,” said Campbell, who has studied gender-based violence for 20 years in several countries. “Women’s physical security is significantly associated with global peace and economic development.”
Women are killed by a partner or an ex at nine times the rate they are killed by a stranger, according to Campbell. There are more homicides of women in the U.S. than many other countries around the world, she added.
In the U.S., the Violence Against Women Act is up for renewal every five years, and is next due in 2018, she said. “This year is when we lay the groundwork, but it is in serious peril.”
The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which receives federal grants, is also in danger of losing funding, a participant told the audience.
Campbell presented several more statistics about violence against women in the U.S. and around the world, and also shared several organizations that are working to combat the problem, from Pigs for Peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to One Love Foundation, founded in memory of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia student who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend in 2010.
“Our solutions have to be effective at many different levels: cultural, economic and individual,” Campbell said. “I’m thrilled to be part of this celebration of International Women’s Day at ECU. And I’m pleased as punch to see a few men in the room. This can’t just be a women’s issue.”
International Women’s Day, which started in the U.S. in the 1910s, celebrates the achievements of women everywhere and acknowledges the challenges they face. The Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women began leading ECU’s celebrations in 2014.
Following the keynote luncheon, organizers held a call to action session that showcased campus and community organizations, like the Center for Family Violence Prevention in Greenville, so participants could get involved and stay active. The day ended with a screening and panel discussion of the movie “Embrace,” which depicts the story of Taryn Brumfitt, founder of the Body Image Movement.
-by Jackie Drake, Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women