Right now, the world is observing ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’. It started on Saturday 25 November – which was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year, the theme is ‘Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls’.
The statistics are concerning. An official UN report found that 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Gender inequality persists worldwide. Action is being taken on a global scale to try and achieve equality and respect for women everywhere. But, as the old saying goes: ‘be the change you want to see in the world’. You can make a difference, starting with yourself.
We are increasingly seeing strong women achieve great things, whether in politics, music, sport or business. A solid, positive mental attitude and sense of self is vital for all women to succeed. But physical empowerment is crucial, too.
While researching this, I stumbled across an inspiring story which ran with the headline: ‘Meet the Muslim woman boxing her way through prejudice’. It highlights the incredible achievements of Australian Muslim boxer Bianca Elmir, who is preparing for her first ever professional fight. She’s overcome growing up in family turmoil, being moved from country to country (from the Middle East to Australia, where she spent most of her childhood) and being one of the few Muslims in her community.
She has experienced the stigma attached to women – especially Muslim women – getting involved in sports such as boxing. But she made it through with vision and ambition. Elmir now says she wants to ‘empower women through self-defence’ and is boxing her way through all sorts of obstacles to inspire other Muslim women to take up sport.
As Elmir says: “Achieving your dreams while overcoming culturally-ingrained stereotypes can be a difficult thing to accomplish.” But she’s doing it. Her next goal is to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.
The UN states that ‘Violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination’. During these ’16 Days’, it aims to galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world. This is a social, political and cultural issue and it will take time. Until we get there, there’s no harm in working on our mental strength and physical empowerment, to make us feel more confident and able to defend ourselves.
Bianca Elmir is achieving this. You can too. And to help, here at ODARA we run martial arts classes on Mondays. And in fresh news, we’re launching self-defence classes in early 2018. We’re with you every step of the way.
To stay up-to-date with class time and launch dates, like us on Facebook.
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