On 25 November the Gender Equality Committee of Co-operatives of the Americas commemorated the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by publishing a declaration signed by its president, Xiomara Núñeq de Céspedes.
The Committee raised its voice to commemorate the day and honour the Mirabal sisters, who were cruelly assassinated in 1960 the Trujillo regime, a dictatorship which ruled the Dominican Republic with intolerance and terror.
Violence against women is described as all violent acts against the integrity of the female sex that causes, or could cause, physical, sociological or sexual damage or suffering – whether in the public sphere or private life.
Violence against women is violence against the entire family: it takes place in all social strata because it is anchored in a male chauvinist culture which has, as one of its elements, the possessiveness of the man over the woman. She becomes an object of desire and subordination. It can also be seen in the remarks made by men about violence that are so common in relationships.
Truncated economic development, the great levels of economic inequality, shrinking expectations, and limits to the legal framework are structural problems that tend to exacerbate gender violence in society.
We refuse, as co-operative members, to be part of a society which is increasingly indifferent to a being as dignified, loving and productive as the woman – who represents balance in families and who is diminished day by day in the hands of colleagues and ex-comrades who believe they have the right to mutilate them or take their lives mercilessly.
Violence against women is widespread across our continent. The data shows that one in two women between the ages of 14 and 49 suffers or has suffered abuse, mostly from their peers or former partners.
The concept of equity is linked to justice, impartiality and social equality. Gender, on the other hand, is a class or type that allows the grouping of those who have one or more common characteristics.
In the prevention of violence against women, we commit ourselves to working with men to create a new masculinity and change the “macho” culture that tends to perpetuate discrimination against women.
We unite today, in the demand that the competent authorities in each country fulfill their role of punishing all those guilty of abusing the dignity and integrity of women with all the weight of the law; that education programmes are created for all school levels to promote a culture of peace and respect for life; that government programmes prioritise prevention; and that all acts of violence against women are punished in an exemplary manner.
Enough with the impunity! Not a single more woman!
Xiomara Núñez de Céspedes
President of the Regional Gender Equality Committee
Vicepresident of the Global Gender Equality Committee of the International Co-operative Alliance