Violence Against Women

   - Natasha Stott Despoja AO

Natasha Stott Despoja AO discusses the critical issue of domestic and family violence, highlighting society's high tolerance for disrespect, which can escalate to violence and death. Despite increased awareness and reporting of domestic violence, the number of women dying violently remains steady, with at least one woman murdered every week. Stott Despoja calls for community action to change these statistics, emphasizing the need for primary prevention. This involves addressing the underlying attitudes and behaviors that lead to violence, striving for gender equality, and fostering respect across all societal sectors. She points out that while there is no single solution, taking responsibility at an individual level is crucial. As parents, workers, friends, and leaders, people must oppose sexist behavior and promote positive change. The conversation also touches on recent financial investments by political leaders in combating this violence, with Stott Despoja expressing cautious optimism. She stresses the need for politicians to model respectful relationships and behavior, given the vast social and economic cost of violence against women, estimated at $21 billion per year. She concludes by acknowledging the significant work that remains to be done and thanks organizations leading the fight against this pervasive issue.



International Women's Day

On International Women's Day, Natasha Stott Despoja speaks with mixed feelings, acknowledging the day's significance as both a celebration of progress and a reminder of the long journey ahead for gender equality and women's rights. She recognizes the importance of events like breakfasts for networking and solidarity among women, yet she stresses the crucial ongoing work, such as combating gendered violence and achieving women's safety.

Stott Despoja highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated inequalities and traditional gender roles, increasing domestic violence cases and intensifying the burden of unpaid care and low-skilled work on women. She discusses the importance of education in changing the narrative, advocating for respectful relationships education in schools and promoting equality in workplaces and representation in decision-making bodies.

Despite feeling despair over the slow pace of change, Stott Despoja remains hopeful, noting a shift in discourse that now links violence against women to gender inequality. She underscores the need for a multifaceted approach, including cultural change, policy reform, and generational shifts, to tackle the deep-rooted issues.

Finally, Stott Despoja touches on the business case for gender equality, pointing out that domestic violence costs over $20 billion a year in Australia alone. She calls for political will to accelerate change and address this national emergency, emphasizing the challenge of power dynamics and the reluctance of those in power to relinquish control. She concludes by urging a stronger, faster response to gender-based violence and inequality.

Questions for further reflection and discussion
  1. Considering the societal cost of domestic violence, which is highlighted as over $20 billion annually in Australia, what strategies could be implemented to shift public and private sector investment towards prevention and support systems? How might such investments not only reduce the financial burden but also improve societal well-being?
  2. Natasha Stott Despoja mentions the importance of cultural change and the challenge of altering entrenched attitudes and behaviors. What role can individuals, communities, and institutions play in accelerating this cultural shift towards gender equality and respect? How can each level of society contribute to a multi-layered approach to change?
  3. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women has been significant, exacerbating inequalities and traditional gender roles. As we look to recover from the pandemic, what specific policies and practices should be prioritized to address the disproportionate effects on women, and how can we ensure these issues are central to the recovery plans at both national and global levels?
Reflect on these questions and listen to the following songs

Song - Christina Aguilera - Can't Hold Us Down



Song - Kesha - Praying



Song - Destiny's Child - Independent Women



Song - Mary J. Blige, U2 - One



Song - Kari Jobe - I Am Not Alone



Discuss

Final Prayer

Loving God, we come before You today with heavy hearts, reflecting on the words of Natasha Stott Despoja and the pervasive struggle against domestic violence that afflicts our world. We pray for strength and healing for all those who have suffered from this violence, for wisdom and courage for those who lead and shape our communities to enact change, and for compassion and understanding to take root deeply in our societies. May we foster a culture of respect, equality, and safety, where every woman is cherished and violence is but a shadow of the past. Guide us, O Lord, to be bearers of Your light and love, to stand against injustice, and to support one another on the journey towards peace and dignity for all. Amen.



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Date
05 March 2024

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Natasha Stott Despoja AO

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