Championing a better world for all women and girls

Up to a billion women worldwide have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetime, according to Dr. Janice Du Mont.

“It’s an issue that touches everyone’s lives. It’s a problem relevant to everyone in all countries. This cuts across boundaries like geography, wealth and culture,” says Du Mont.

Du Mont asserts that the only way to change the world for women and girls is to radically strengthen political will in every country around the world, and to maintain that resolution and commitment.

“Every society, every community and neighbourhood has to care about and prioritize the health and human rights of women and girls,” says Du Mont. “It’s that simple. Nothing less will be enough.”

Du Mont was approached by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in late 2011 to pen “Seeking a better world for women and girls: A moral and political movement to end gendered oppression is needed,” an editorial that she wrote with her colleague Dr. Deborah White.

The editorial cites a litany of chilling evidence from a wide range of sources. In spite of being targeted by thousands of programs, campaigns, policies, laws, conventions and treaties, the global pandemic of gender-based violence continues to persist.

“More girls have been killed simply because they were girls in any single decade than people were murdered in all the genocides of the 20th century,” wrote Du Mont, citing Half The Sky, the book that prompted her editorial.

In addition to publishing Du Mont’s editorial, BMJ highlighted it as the Editor’s Choice. That’s when the piece caught the attention of Joe De Capua of Voice of America. Soon, Du Mont’s call for a moral and political movement to end the “insidious, systematic and widespread” violence and oppression of women and girls was being echoed around the world. The message was shared on radio, online and in print across North America and in China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Ireland.

Dr. Janice Du Mont examines the impact of gender-based violence on women’s health, with a focus on the medical and legal responses to sexual assault. She led a study examining the use of substances in facilitating sexual assault, and has explored the use of HIV post-exposure prophylaxis on women who have been sexually assaulted. Currently she is examining the consequences of intimate partner violence in immigrant women and men. Du Mont has served as an advisor to a World Health Organization initiative to document the criminalization of sexual violence across regions. She is a scientist at WCRI and an associate professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.