Carmen is a Gender Specialist from Spain. She has been a NYLESA member since September 2019
Tell us about your work in addressing gender-based violence. What is your specific work and what makes you passionate about it?
I am a gender specialist with more than 15 years of experience working in international development both in humanitarian and development contexts. I work as a freelance consultant and my last assignment here in NY with UNICEF has focused precisely on School-Related Gender based Violence (SR-GBV). My passion and dedication to fight against GBV started early in my professional career as I could witness the devastation caused by it but also the immense driving force that there is in all the prevention and advocacy efforts happening around in Palestine, Sudan, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Ethiopia and other countries where I have worked in. In every shelter for survivors, in every school-based education session, in every campaign, in every research that I have lead, I always tried to transform and create lasting changes.
What would be your message for the 16 Days of Activism Against the Gender-based Violence?
UNWOMEN estimates indicate that 1 in 3 women worldwide have experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. In 2017, an estimated 58% of female victims of murder globally were killed by an intimate partner or member of their own family. Unfortunately, these figures are likely to have increased during this year as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing women and girls to stay at home with their perpetrators and survivors with limited access to any sort of help or support. This is a problem in every country, in every city, in every community and unfortunately, it is very much rooted in the patriarchal societies we live in. We all need to recognize the proximity of the problem and acknowledge that this type of violence is rooted in gender inequalities and toxic cultural norms we have all grew up with. Since this is a structural problem, the solution needs to come by challenging these every-day very common inequalities. We can all contribute to the change: by educating our girls and boys to be empowered and respectful individuals, by not perpetuating historical prejudices against women (i.e. “women are delicate” or “women are bad at driving or in STEM”), by censuring friends, relatives or work-colleagues when they are disrespectful to women or mock them -even if it is veiled as a joke or a compliment. This is our job -of all of us- to stop the GBV pandemic.
Being attached to UN affects our individual lives and the lives of our families. How does it affect your work and career?
I have been fortunate enough to travel the world meeting extraordinary women and girls’ survivors, activists and practitioners -both female and male- who are working to change these very difficult realities. As much as the UN is greatly supporting the global movement against GBV, being part of the UN family gives me pride and inspires me to continue working and contributing to a world where no women or girl suffer violence or discrimination.