HA TŠEPO, Lesotho, 28 November 2017 - A cloud of yellow dust blows into the group sitting on the ground at the village centre. Toddlers run, legs wobbly, to bury their faces in the open arms of their mothers, as the women pull down kerchiefs to protect their eyes.
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At a powerful event bringing forth the voices of survivors and focused on innovative solutions, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women held a fundraising gala in London, United Kingdom, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November).
Reflecting on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed called for investment in women and girls, decrying gender inequality as perhaps the most pervasive disparity around the world.
At only 16 years old, Laura* has already experienced intimate partner violence. "For two years, I put up with verbal and even physical abuse," she said, referring to an ex-boyfriend. "It's one of the worst things I have ever experienced.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Sixteen Days of Activism against Gender Violence UNITE campaign's theme "Leave No One Behind" emphasizes the urgency of reaching the most marginalized first, as the 16 Days of Activism begins worldwide.
"That's what's left of my teeth after my husband beat me," Ameera* said at a women's shelter in south-western Yemen. She held out three white shards, which she keeps as evidence for her divorce proceedings. "He hit me so hard he broke my teeth and nose," she told UNFPA.
Violence against women and girls manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms. Learn how.
For 23-year-old Fatima, it took the death of one child to spark a simple but transformational change, to convince the whole village to start using toilets and improve the health of many young lives.
"I often watch boys playing cricket on this ground. But today I caught a glimpse of girl cricketers in action," said Irfan Darji, a 13-year-old spectator at the final match in a trailblazing girls' tournament in Tulihawa, Nepal, on 26 October.
"Many girls flee their homes with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing," says Apaisaria Kiwori, as she instructs the designated cooks to stir the pots of red kidney beans and rice for dinner.