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Straight talk with Jimmie Briggs about violence against women
April 1, 2016

Portrait of Jimmie Briggs (State Dept.)
(State Dept.)

If you’ve completed the YALI Network Online Course “Understanding the Rights of Women and Girls,” you’ve learned about the importance of stopping violence against women and girls and you already know Jimmie Briggs, the instructor of the lesson on “Ending Violence Against Women and Girls.”

Briggs is an award-winning journalist and author. His Man Up Campaign is a global effort to end gender-based violence by providing training, resources and support to anti-violence initiatives. The youth-led organization has delegates in 24 countries working on projects in their communities to raise awareness of gender-based violence with village-based, person-to-person education.

Something one of the delegates said at Man Up’s 2010 launch at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa has stuck with Briggs. “One of our delegates from Liberia said, ‘When you rape a woman, you rape a village,’” Briggs said. “I think about that often when I speak about this issue, because I think that analogy applies to so many transgressions. What happens to women has a ripple effect on all of us.”

Briggs says much of the violence against women stems from the way many cultures define men. “Whether you’re in New York, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso or Ghana, there’s the broad common definition of what being a man is,” he said. “And I think that broad definition tends to be harmful to not only women and girls but to men amongst each other.”

Apart from the perpetrators of gender-based violence, Briggs sees those who will not hold perpetrators accountable as the biggest part of the problem. “We tend to shy away from confrontation when it comes to saying, ‘You shouldn’t say that,’ or ‘Why did you treat her that way?’ or ‘I’m not comfortable with that language.’ Those of us who are not perpetrators have an extra responsibility to be role models 24/7.”

Briggs offered the following advice as to what YALI Network members can do in their own communities to help end gender-based violence:

1. Educate themselves and then their peers, families and colleagues about the impact of gender-based violence (GBV) and what it is.

2. Create safe spaces, or go to existing ones, to have facilitated dialogue on issues of GBV, and inequity.

3. Surface and affirm survivors’ stories and truths in experiencing GBV as a way of destigmatizing the phenomenon. Many people don’t realize how severe it is or widespread because women and girls aren’t encouraged to talk or made to feel safe talking about gender-based violence.

4. Promote accountability. Men and boys must hold each other accountable for behavior or expressed attitudes that reinforce cultures where women and girls are made to believe they’re second-class citizens. Also, society must hold perpetrators accountable for their actions against women and girls.

5. Have inclusive and rigorous curricular models for gender, sexuality, identity and violence implemented in educational settings from childhood through adolescence. It’s critical that candid but serious education of children from the youngest possible ages occur so as to avoid harmful behaviors, but also engender responsibility and identification with gender-related issues as soon as possible.

Have you joined #16days yet? Say no to gender-based violence and learn more at yali.lab.dev.getusinfo.com/16days.