Across the globe, women and girls face discrimination and alarming rates of violence. An estimated one in three women will be physically abused during her lifetime and will experience sexual violence or some other form of violence. One such woman is Teresa from Nicaragua, who suffered relentless abuse from her husband for 30 years. In some developing countries, the numbers are even more devastating. In addition, many women and girls lack the autonomy, knowledge and community support to make critical decisions about their health, education, professions, sexuality, relationships and marriage.
For example, 12 million girls under the age of 18 enter into early or forced marriages each year, making them more prone to a wide range of problems: they are more likely to be illiterate, live in poverty, face domestic violence and die in childbirth. Similarly, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTQI) people in many places face harassment, discrimination, violence and even murder. Many are ostracized simply for who they are or whom they love.
Sadly, more than 75 countries have enshrined hatred and bigotry into law, making homosexuality illegal—punishable by prison terms and, in some cases, by death.
We believe everyone has the right to:
- Pursue equal opportunities in society without limitations based on gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation
- Make decisions about his or her body and life
- Live free from violence and constant threat
AJWS supports 155 social change organizations in developing countries working to advance the human rights of women, girls and LGBTQI people, end discrimination, stop violence and combat hate crimes. The advocates we support are educating communities about their rights and organizing them to advocate for justice and create lasting change—from increasing girls’ educational opportunities in India to mobilizing an ongoing national movement in Kenya to overturn an anti-homosexuality law. And with the help of an organization AJWS supports, Teresa pressed charges against her husband, maintained control of their land and now lives with her children—free of the threat of violence and abuse.