UNITED NATIONS– The United Nations on Friday called for efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls (VAWG) on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which falls on Nov. 25 annually.
In his message for the day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “now is the time for transformative action that ends violence against women and girls,” adding that violence against women and girls is “the most pervasive human rights violation in the world.”
Through a statement, Sima Bahous, UN Women Executive Director, called on governments and partners across the world to increase long-term funding and support to women’s rights organizations, to make commitments to the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence and donations to civil society organizations through the UN Trust Fund and support to the Spotlight Initiative.
“Resources matter and the scale of financial support for this cause does not match either the scale of the issue or the statements of concern made by those in leadership roles,” Bahous added.
Eleven UN entities called for efforts to eliminate VAWG in a joint statement, kicking off the “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls campaign.”
They reminded that an estimated one in three women experience gender-based violence during her lifetime.
Last year, nearly one in five women aged 20 to 24 had been married before turning 18 and less than 40 percent who experience violence seek help of any sort.
Furthermore, global emergencies, crises, and conflicts have further intensified VAWG and exacerbated its drivers and risks.
“Since the start of COVID-19, 45 percent of women reported that they or a woman they know has experienced a form of VAWG,” according to the statement.
All types of gender-based violence are also aggravated by natural disasters, as witnessed in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina, in 2010 during the Haiti earthquake, in 2011 during the tropical cyclones in Vanuatu, and in 2019 through 2022 during the Australian bush fires.
Meanwhile, existing forms of gender-based violence have grown online as anti-rights movements have flourished.
According to the UN entities, these factors have resulted in a shrinking space for civil society, a backlash against women’s rights organizations, and increased attacks against women human rights advocates.
While ending gender-based VAWG might seem unimaginable, the UN underscored that “it is not.”
“Large-scale reductions in violence against women can be achieved through intensive feminist activism and advocacy coupled with evidence and practice-informed multisectoral action and investment,” the statement continued.
Citing evidence suggesting that “strong and autonomous feminist movements” as being “the most critical factor” in ending VAWG, UN Women and its sister agencies are calling upon governments and partners to “act now to end violence against women and show their solidarity to women’s rights movements and activists.”
Through the UNiTE campaign, the UN is asking for increased long-term funding and support to women’s rights organizations working on solutions to prevent and respond to VAWG.
It is also advocating for resisting the rollback on women’s rights; amplifying the voices of women human rights defenders and feminist women’s movements; mobilizing more actors to join movements to end VAWG globally; and promoting the leadership and participation of women and girls in political, policy making, and decision-making spaces.
In addition, the statement emphasizes the importance of strengthening protections to prevent, eliminate, and address violence, harassment, threats, intimidation and discrimination against women human rights defenders and advocates.
On Dec. 20, 1993, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women through Resolution 48/104.
Finally, on Feb. 7, 2000, the General Assembly adopted Resolution 54/134, officially designating Nov. 25 as the International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and in doing so, inviting governments, international organizations as well as non-government organizations to join together and organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the issue every year on that date. – Xinhua