Letter to the Reader: Izadora McGawley

Dear Reader,

Gender-based violence (GBV) is something that most would like to avoid learning about.  It makes us uncomfortable.  It’s a topic that adults like to keep away from the youth and themselves because it is too much to handle.  My brother used to think that if he closed his eyes, no one could see him.  This made for some interesting games of hide and seek, but at some point someone had to tell him that keeping your eyes shut didn’t make the problem go away.  The same goes for domestic violence, child brides, sexual assault, female genital mutilation/cutting, human trafficking, and so much more.  We cannot shield ourselves from these issues if we truly wish to end them.  In every resolution you read or dialogue you hear I can almost guarantee that education will come up at least once as a tool for preventing violence.  My brother pretending he was invisible during hide and seek didn’t make it true; keeping ourselves shielded from the hard truths of gender-based violence does not make them any less real.

There are numerous forms of gender-based violence.  In my chapter, I have identified four major groups.  These four, while of course only capturing a few of the ways that GBV occurs in our world, are aimed at giving you a well rounded understanding of the complexities that make up this topic.  In category one, you will be introduced to observations and overviews made from outside perspectives as well as root causes.  The root causes are a vital starting point if you wish to truly comprehend the reasoning behind the perpetrator and the cultural/social influences that contribute to the violent thought process.  The media, religion, gender roles, egos, war, history, and perpetuating stereotypes/ideas all have an impact on how women and men are treated.  

While yes, these influences are major contributors to the violence itself, it is also a key way to ending it. The UN and several other grassroots organizations, survivors of these acts, and everyday people like you and me are stepping up and making change through social media, protests, rallies, education, hands on projects, and working with governments/corporations.  Old traditions are being transformed, society is bringing men and boys to the table, the LGBTQ+ community is starting to be recognized in the field of gender equality, and programs like WorldLink are connecting youth to these ideas so we can move forward with them.  These are only a few examples of how things are shifting in the right direction.

Before you begin the chapter, I have some suggestions to help you get the most out of your research.  As you are reading, I urge you to stay in a constant state of contradiction.  Distance yourself from using gender-based violence interchangeably with violence against women, consider each argument, and make connections with other chapters, categories, or articles.  Question everything and search for evidence rather than claims.  Think about your own biases and how you can understand, accept, or remove them.  Be metacognitive and play devil’s advocate.  Doing this will give you a more balanced perspective and definitely help to communicate your findings in a critical way through discussion and writing.  Remember that this does not cover everything.  Like I mentioned before, GBV is a complex issue.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Stay fully aware of your own reading comprehension so that you don’t get lost in the jargon of some of the more wordy articles.  There pieces of golden information in there that aren’t always found at first glance, don’t be afraid to read things multiple times.  Last but not least, set your intention.  It’s easy to lose hope when diving into sad truths, make sure your mind is set to inspire and act.  Empathy can be your motivation or your worst enemy.

I hope that you can find as much inspiration in these articles as I have and with it have some enriching conversations that will prepare you for your journey toward creating gender equality.  We as youth have the power to make the world into whatever we dream if we set our mind to it.  Thank you for taking the first step toward that better world.  I hope you are ready for many more to come.


Iza McGawley, High Tech High Chula Vista

WorldLink 2016 Summer Intern

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