Why I run with Chayn to fight violence against women — and you should too

I like to run. Specifically I like to run fast. It’s an empowering feeling that makes me feel strong and free. However, I can’t deny that there is another motivating factor to me wanting to get stronger and quicker. That motivating factor is that the knowledge that I can run gives me a small amount of reassurance that if I was to feel under threat when walking alone somewhere – I could get away. You see, as a woman, I never feel 100% safe in public spaces. This is why I jump a foot in the air when someone stops me to ask for directions and why I repeatedly cross the road when I’m walking home and there’s someone walking behind me who I feel is too close to me. It’s why I catch the 5.30am train instead of the 7.11 so I don’t have to feel scared by the invasion of my personal space that is inevitable on a packed commuter train.

This is all true and yet I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I am white, I have a family that supports all of my decisions, was educated at one of the best universities in the world, completely financially independent and I live in the U.K. which, although flawed, does have laws that protect my rights. All of these are factors that provide me with a layer of protection against violence which many other women around the world do not have.

Friday 25th November is international day for the elimination of violence against women. It is a day organised by the UN that reflects the recognition by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, that “Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development. It imposes large-scale costs on families, communities and economies. The world cannot afford to pay this price.”

For us at Chayn it is a bittersweet day. We are happy that the issue is being raised on a global platform but sad that it is necessary. We are doing all we can to combat the problems, with our projects that leverage tech to help women empower themselves such as Soul Medicine and our toolkits, and with activism – Chayn Italia will be taking part in a demonstration on Friday in Italy as part of the country’s response to the day. As our friend Rosie Spinks says we are happy to be Mouthy Women, and make as much noise as we can. We go beyond just raising our voices. We work with survivors, the experts of their own situation, who are often forgotten in the development of solutions. We make them the creators of resources and make sure the perspectives we bring cut across all communities. We’re proud of what we have achieved, but there is a lot more to do and we can’t do it alone.

Ending violence against women requires a global effort, with everyone coming together to do their part. That means having difficult conversations, educating yourself even if it makes you uncomfortable and raising our children to know that it is not ok to respond to women violently – be that emotionally, sexually or physically. The important thing is to keep the momentum going, to keep things moving forward and to commit to never resting until every little girl born – no matter where she is – grows up in the knowledge that she is safe, loved and an essential part of the world’s society. Stand by us, do your part, shout from the top of your lungs and let’s get one step closer to the elimination of violence against women than we were yesterday.