Violence against women is also: Reinforcing economic dependence

Photo: Susana Vera for Action Against Hunger, Guatemala.



From November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, and until December 10th, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

Violence against women is one of the biggest causes of injury and death to women worldwide, causing more deaths and disability for women ages 15 to 44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. In other words, it’s an epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

However, violence against women goes beyond the physical. Violence can be physical, sexual, psychological. Violence can include limiting autonomy, decision-making power and access to certain resources.

For these 16 days, we are highlighting 16 different types of violence that women and girls experience beyond the physical.

You can take action against gender-based violence:


Day 5 – Violence Against Women is also: Reinforcing economic dependence


Why are women dependent on men?

In many countries, men often govern many aspects of daily life in both the public and private sphere.

In the public sphere, women’s economic progress is restricted by traditional gender roles, often confining them to housework. This creates a vicious cycle, where daughters are less likely to be sent to school, resulting in a reduced ability to work in higher paid positions, and reinforcing the traditional role of taking care of the home. Many women tend to work low-paying jobs, such as housekeeping within their villages, while men have a greater level of independence, tend to receive more education, and are often able to find more lucrative work outside of the home.

Within the private sphere, economic power ultimately determines household bargaining power. This means that within each household, men tend to have more decision-making power than women, as they are considered as the ‘breadwinners’. Hence it results in a vicious cycle where women’s economic and social progress is dictated by men. Although women’s economic power has improved globally over the years, women continue to be at a disadvantage with lower literacy rates, restricting their ability make progress. How do we break this cycle?


A women’s world: Supporting independence in times of crisis

During times of crisis, women and men are often separated, with women fleeing to regions of safety with their children. This was the case for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda, where 86% of those who arrived this year were women and children. Since the civil war broke out in South Sudan, men have stayed behind to fight or work, while women have been forced to flee to Uganda with their children. As a result, refugee communities in Uganda are made up of a majority of women-headed households, where women have had to take on the responsibilities of their male partners. Action Against Hunger has played a major role in helping South Sudanese refugees become economically and socially independent in Uganda through a series of programs.

Mother-to-mother support groups have been set up: in each group, selected women have been trained to lead and advise other women on issues of nutrition and well-being. The groups also help women to pool their resources and share their ideas, in order to achieve economic independence. For example, many groups to take on income-generating activities, such as making soap and setting up food gardens to grow and sell fresh vegetables. Action Against Hunger has facilitated these initiatives, by providing women with the necessary training or materials. The mother-to-mother groups also led to the formation of social networks, allowing women to support each other and rebuild their communities rather than depend on their husbands. These initiatives have been vital in showing us that with a little support, women can achieve both social and economic independence in times of crisis and difficulty.

Action Against Hunger mother-to-mother support group in Uganda. Photo by Paula Dear.


Help us support more women to reach economic independence.