For more than 20 years Dr Christine Brendel has researched violence against women and girls. From this she has designed an implementable process that organisations, from small businesses to countries, can use to ensure everyone works together to oppose gender-based violence.
Brendel manages the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) programme Preventing Violence Against Women, and she is a political adviser in the international field to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
She will deliver the keynote speech opening the second day of the conference and setting out how these organisations can, and must, work together to eradicate gender-based violence.
“Getting to share my experience and thoughts with such an expert audience is both an honour and a challenge,” says Brendel.
The Regional Conference on Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls in Southern Africa will bring together policymakers, development partners, religious and traditional leaders, people from the private sector, government officials and civil society representatives, including from the United Nations. These delegates will exchange experiences and explore ways to implement effective and promising practices to address violence against women and girls in Southern Africa.
Their task is urgent – in the region social acceptance of this most globally widespread form of violence is high. As an example, across the region 38% of the population justify domestic violence in certain situations.
“My hope is that participants get new perspectives, existing partnerships are deepened while new ones are also formed, and the conference is defined through a spirit of inclusiveness, engagement, motivation to experience new things, and having fun along the way,” says Brendel.
“The vision I’m working towards is making women’s rights more and more important over the coming years so that we can make continued progress toward achieving gender equality on all levels and a life free of violence for women and girls.”
Brendel’s research into the economic cost of the violence women and girls suffer has shown that this particular type of violence, which the World Health Organisation says affects a third of women worldwide, also negatively affects countries’ economic success.