6 March, 2013 – At a high-level side event on the COMMIT Initiative on 5 March, the spotlight was on Governments who have pledged to undertake new and concrete national measures to end violence against women in their countries.
More than 150 people, including Ministers and CSW Heads of delegation, attended the high-level event organized by UN Women and hosted by the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations.
Launched by UN Women in November of 2012, “COMMIT” calls on leaders worldwide to fulfill their promise and take a stand by making new and concrete national commitments to end violence against women and girls. These range from passing or improving laws, ratifying international conventions, launching public awareness campaigns, providing safe houses or free hotline services and free legal aid to survivors, supporting education programmes that address gender stereotypes and violence, as well as increasing women in law enforcement, peacekeeping forces and frontline services.
Already 49 Governments and the European Commission have joined the initiative, with more expected to do so during CSW.
Following introductory remarks by Ambassador Peter Wittig, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet and Liberia’s Minister for Gender and Development Julia Duncan-Cassell then gave a brief overview of the commitments made by each of the 49 Governments that had committed by that point.
“It is this kind of bold leadership that we are commending here tonight. To galvanize momentum, a few short months ago, I invited Governments to join a drive for renewed national action to stop violence against women and girls,” said Ms. Bachelet. “COMMIT does not end here –new momentum for action is within the closest reach. At CSW, we all have an opportunity to express our determined leadership.”
Many of the delegates came to reaffirm their country’s commitment, such as Diao Anne Sarr, Second Counsellor for the Permanent Mission of Senegal: “I saw my country there on the screen and it made me feel proud.”
Ms. Bachelet concluded by addressing those present who had yet to announce commitments: “We still have time – a little energy on that!”
The event also featured a premiere performance of “One Woman,” a new song for UN Women to be launched this Friday 8 March, on International Women’s Day. It was performed by Debi Nova from Costa Rica and Yuna from Malaysia — two of the 25 musical artists who recorded “One Woman.”
“It’s a wonderful thing to be able to lend my voice and contribute something in the name of goodness,” said Yuna.
“Though we’re different as can be; we’re connected, she with me; We are One Woman …” the duo belted out in unison, during their powerful performance.
The message of the lyrics seemed to resonate with the crowd, and some delegates even swayed along to its soulful melody.
Among them was Nicole Zuendorf-Hinte, advisor to the German Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. As one of the negotiators of the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (also known as the Istanbul Convention), she said it was also a personal pleasure for her to attend the event and learn that so many European countries had committed to its ratification. She praised COMMIT as a novel initiative, with teeth.
“I think it’s great that so many countries have committed from all over the world. It’s also something that civil society can follow-up on, which helps make it enforceable,” said Zuendorf-Hinte.