THE BLOG
19/02/2016 09:36 GMT | Updated 17/02/2017 05:12 GMT

One Billion Rising: It's Time to Act to End Violence Against Women

Last Sunday, thousands of people across the globe joined together calling for an end to violence against women. I was shocked when I found out that one third of women on the planet will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. That equates to more than one billion women and girls. Just think about that for a minute. Do you know someone, a woman or girl in your life, who has been affected by this kind of violence? I know I can - it's happening a lot closer to home than you might think.

As a Girlguiding member, I'm passionate about championing girls and young women, speaking out for their rights and campaigning to make the world a fairer and safer place for all girls.

Year after year, Girlguiding research shows us that the fear or threat of everyday violence continues to blight the lives of thousands of girls and young women across the UK.

Three quarters of girls aged 11 to 21 say anxiety about experiencing sexual harassment negatively affects their lives in some way from what they wear to where they go and how they feel about their bodies.

When it comes to intimate relationships, worryingly two in three young women aged 17 to 21 agree that popular culture tells boys that they are entitled to coerce or abuse their girlfriends (67%).

A significant minority of young women aged 17 to 21 (13%) say that a boy/girlfriend has made them feel frightened or threatened, with one in ten staying in a relationship in which their partner has made them feel unsafe (11%).

Violence against women and girls is a global emergency - but it's not an issue confined to faraway countries - it's happening on our doorsteps. It's happening to girls in schools, on the streets and behind closed doors across the UK.

That's why I support the One Billion Rising campaign - a movement calling for mass action to finally end this injustice against women. And that's why on Valentine's Day this year, I joined millions of others to express our outrage and call out for change.

When asked through Girlguiding's Girls Attitudes Survey, only 40 per cent of girls and young women agreed with the statement 'I believe we can change society to be free from violence against women and girls in the future'.

This is a shocking reality check about the situation for girls in the UK today - how can girls view something so serious and damaging as simply an inevitable part of life and futile to combat. We need this to change.

I'm hopeful that we can tackle this head on and seek positive change. It's likely that most women reading this blog will, either directly or indirectly, be affected by gender-based violence at some point during their lives - so let's do something about it.

Taking inspiration from One Billion Rising we need to give girls and young women a platform to

make their voices heard on this issue. We need the support of Government and decision-makers to clamp down on harassment in schools and challenge violence against women wherever we find it.

We can't have one billion women in this situation - even one is too many.

Let's join together to make 2016 the most important year yet in the fight against violence against women. Let's be the change together to make the world a safer place for girls.