24th November 2016
In May this year, the Big Lottery Fund awarded £45 million to services for ‘Women and Girls’. Within this, they made a grant of £5.75m to a partnership between SafeLives and Women’s Aid. Both organisations are committed to making the lives of women safer, independent, and equal.
I use the word ‘women’ deliberately. This money came from the Big Lottery’s ‘Women and Girls’ initiative and therefore the project will focus on how to make women and girls safe. This specific provision is welcomed by us; it is also something that causes controversy and concern in some quarters.
Every day, we receive messages asking ‘what about men?’ We thought today (International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women) was the perfect day to be open, to be vocal, and to explain our approach.
This is not about discrimination. It’s about the evidence. The facts speak, very plainly, for themselves. We know 95% of victims at the highest risk of murder or serious harm are women. Women are 52% of the UK’s population and are dying at a rate of two a week, far more if you include suicide linked to abuse as well as murder.
These aren’t details. This isn’t historic. It’s now and it’s significant, and we have so far to go before it is made better. We believe that this means we must continue to protect and provide services for women, to reduce the imminent risk to them, to make them safe from the terrifying ordeal of abuse and to help them recover and move on.
We know male victims exist. Recognising their needs in no way prevents the need for specific provision and funds for women.
We welcome the Lottery’s commitment to women; as we welcome the Government’s continued commitment to making specific provision, in its strategies and funding arrangements.
All violence, fear and control in a relationship is wrong. And we can say that while still believing in specific provision for women. Denying or minimising the lived experience of hundreds of thousands of women is not the way to make progress.
We support campaigns that encourage men to be part of the solution, such as the White Ribbon Campaign. We work closely with organisations that specialise in supporting male victims, such as Respect. And we believe perpetrators must receive specialist intervention to change and be challenged, such as the Drive Partnership between SafeLives, Respect and Social Finance. All family members need appropriate support if domestic abuse is to end.
We passionately believe in a world where women and girls are free from abuse. A world in which women don’t go home scared at the end of the day. We don’t want to keep reading domestic homicide reviews which tell us yet another story of a preventable death. So we will not bow out of the debate. Domestic abuse is gendered. And for that reason, we welcome specific provision for women and girls. We are determined that this Big Lottery ‘Women and Girls’ grant will bring us closer towards a reality of our joint goal: to see women and girls free from fear.