According to data made available by the United Nations (UN), gender-based violence was one of the most prevalent human rights violations across the world. It knows no boundaries and affects every one in three women worldwide. Viewed as a growing concern that undermines the "health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims," there have been collective global efforts to tackle this issue.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on November 22 gave a shout-out to these efforts, and one among them to receive special mention was Indian gender activist Elsa Marie D'Silva. He made it a point to appreciate her efforts towards combating gender-based violence and building a hopeful future.
Activism For Peace
Speaking during the opening remarks at the 9th Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilisations, Guterres mentioned D'Silva for her efforts in mobilising thousands of young people worldwide and breaking the silence around gender-based violence. Stating that human rights are globally neglected or attacked outright, he said that the world is in a crisis and an alliance of peace can be built only through collaborative efforts. Adding on to it further, he quoted that incidents of hate speech, disinformation, and abuse that particularly targeted women and vulnerable groups, have become growingly noticeable.
A report by the New Indian Express quoted him saying that a peaceful and better tomorrow can be envisioned "if we recognise diversity as richness; and if we invest in inclusion; and if we make sure that all of us - regardless of race, descent, origin, background, gender, religion, or other status - can live lives of dignity and opportunity." He also referred to the Islamic religious scripture 'Quran' and said that God created different nations and tribes so that we could know one another and live in harmony.
Bringing up the efforts contributed by many activists, he added, "I am thinking of people like Elsa Marie D'Silva from India, who co-founded a platform that crowdsources and maps sexual violence and harassment." The event also saw mentions of people like Magdalen Amony from Uganda, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, and so on.
Making Safer Tomorrow For Women
The Indian activist D'Silva founded the Red Dot Foundation and Safecity platform, which documents and creates awareness about sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. Her initiative to document such incidents grew to become the largest and most extensive crowd map on sexual harassment in regions of India, Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria and Nepal. It has been able to empower individuals and communities to contribute and create safer public and private spaces.
The platform is curated in such a manner that it collects, analyses, and identifies patterns of crowdsourced reports of sexual violence happening globally. The data-based insights and hotspots located via the map facilitate improved policy-making and look into optimising efforts where necessary.
The activist's efforts in tackling gender-based injustice have been recognised and honoured on multiple forums, such as the Equal Rights and Non-Discrimination award at the World Justice Challenge'2022, the Shree Shakti Award by UN Women India and the Government of India (MeitY) 2022, and so on. She is also a member of the Policy Strategy Group on the World We Want 2030 People's Voices, Action Platform for advancing Agenda 2030, and UN Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development.
Also Read: Gender-Based Violence: Rise In Atrocities Against Women Since Pandemic Started