Girl empowerment and the prevention of gender-based violence in the British Virgin Islands
One in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime – with girls being particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and exploitation.
These statistics around gender-based violence are staggering and highlight the disproportionate impact it has on girls and women. The prevention of gender-based violence (GBV) is a fundamental pillar in building just and equitable societies.
Unite BVI – launched by Virgin Unite and Virgin Limited Edition in 2016 – is working to create new opportunities for communities across the British Virgin Islands, with gender equality one of its focus areas.
Unite BVI, alongside Girl UP, FeMale, WINBVI and Zonta believe that community plays a vital role in creating a culture of respect and equality and recently, alongside other non-profit organisations and community members, showed their support of the movement by joining together in a march through the streets of Tortola Island. The collective stood united in a commitment to championing the rights of girls and young women in the BVI, ensuring they are free from harm and empowered to reach their full potential.
The guest speaker at this march was Barbadian, Ronelle King, an award-winning Gender Justice activist and the founder of Life in Leggings – a Caribbean Alliance against gender-based violence.
Ronelle recently joined Virgin Unite as a speaker at The CEO Magazine co-hosted gathering in May 2023 and since then both Virgin Unite and Unite BVI have been huge supporters of her work. In 2016 Ronelle founded the viral #LifeinLeggings hashtag, which was mobilised to create a safe space for women who had experienced sexual violence. She is also the founder of Pink Parliament, an initiative that seeks to increase women’s participation in decision-making spaces by encouraging women and girls to pursue careers in politics.
“As women, girls, boys and men took to the streets to chant, ‘No Violence Against Women’ and express their solidarity and support for survivors of gender-based violence, I couldn’t have been more proud of their bravery and courage to challenge this issue plaguing not only their country but the wider region,” shared Ronelle.
Empowering girls is a critical step towards preventing GBV and by investing in girls' education, leadership development, and economic opportunities, we can equip them with the tools and confidence to navigate their lives safely and effectively.
Together, we can create a world where girls and young women are empowered, valued, and safe. By investing in their education, fostering their leadership, and addressing the root causes of gender-based violence, we can build a more just and equitable society for all.
To support Ronelle’s work and mission follow her here and to learn more about Unite BVI visit their website.