I have just returned from an inspiring journey across a changing world and I am full of hope for women and girls. I traveled from the Baltic states of Lithuania and Latvia and continued an eastward path to the South Pacific island country, Tonga, all countries where new laws have passed aimed at ending violence against women. For three weeks, I have been surrounded by the amazing resolve of women’s activists and their tangible successes. But my journey had a disconcerting backdrop. As I traveled, I heard story after story in the daily media – girls in India, raped and hung to die, a Santa Barbara killer wanting revenge on young women, enslaved Nigerian girls and young, pregnant women in Sudan and Pakistan, killed or imprisoned for claiming their rights to live as they choose.
The contrast between my experience and the barrage of devastating news was stark. I began to recognize it all as part of a world in transformation. We are moving rapidly from a place where vast numbers of women and girls are denied their human right to safety and equality to a world where this violence is exposed as a community shame, worthy of outrage and action. And laws.