Between November 25th and December 10th, women's shelters and crisis centres on every continent are engaging communities as part of the vibrant annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign. The 2012 and 2013 campaign theme is: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! 

The impact of militarism on violence against women is a critical issue for many women and children who seek support at the women's centres, shelters and networks that created GNWS. 

Militarism & Violence Against Women in Rwanda

One founding member of GNWS, Mary Balikungeri from the Rwanda Women Community Development Network has been working for decades with women who endured repeated rape by soldiers as tactics of war during and after the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

As the 2000 Organization of African Unity report concluded: 

"we can be certain that almost all females who survived the genocide were direct victims of rape or other sexual violence, or were profoundly affected by it".


Since the genocide, the Rwanda Women's Network has worked continuously to help women survive and heal. They have developed services and activities that empower and promote the socioeconomic welfare and health of the Rwandan women and girls who survived.  

Rwanda Women's Network Banner

The world needs to understand the complex impacts on women, families, and communities when the rape of women is used as a widespread weapon of war by soldiers within your country.  Even after the military conflict ends, neighbors, community members and government officials may be the same men who raped or you or your family members (or ordered soldiers to rape).  

In Rwanda's armed conflict, sexual violence was used as a weapon to dehumanize, purposely transmit AIDs, impregnate for 'ethnic cleansing' and physically disable and maim Tutsi women and girls.  The women who survived also had to witness the rape and murder of many other women and girls. 

Sexual violence during and after conflicts, and, sexual and gender-based violence committed by state agents like the police or military are significant issues impacting women on every continent. Additionally, the widespread distribution and availability of weapons in the wake of such conflicts is impacting domestic violence.

The act of perpetrating violence against women and girls is a human rights violation. It is the obligation of governments to respond, protect, and prevent violence against women.

Global Network of Women's Shelters issues a Call To Action

As stated in the Global Network of Women's Shelters' Call To Action:

"we call upon all governments to develop and support targeted actions to prevent and respond to violence against women and children."

We need your voice. Your voice is an important part of getting your governments to understand what yet needs to be done to eliminate violence against women and girls.

Learn 12 ways to Join Our Call to Action.

You can also get involved in the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict. Take the pledge today to support the Campaign at

From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! is available in 38 languages at: