Press Release: UN Women Executive Director launches new initiative to spotlight national commitments to end violence against women

Date : 20 November 2012

UN WOMEN PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
20 November 2012

New York, 20 November— In her message for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November, UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet is calling for bold action and decisive leadership to galvanize efforts to end the pandemic of violence against women and girls. [Full Text Below]

Launching COMMIT, a new initiative asking governments to make national commitments which will be showcased globally, Ms. Bachelet underlines that ending violence against women is possible. Today 125 countries have laws that penalize domestic violence, a huge step forward from just a decade ago. But she said this is not enough. Up to seven in ten women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime and 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime.

“We all must do better to protect women and prevent this pervasive human rights violation. Governments and leaders must lead by example. Now is the time for governments to translate international promises into concrete national action, says Ms. Bachelet in her message.

“We hope to see new and improved laws and national action plans that provide for safe houses, free hotline services and free health and legal aid to survivors. We count on education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect, and inspire young people to take leadership on ending violence against women and girls. We need increasing numbers of women in politics, law enforcement, and peacekeeping forces. We need equal economic opportunities and decent jobs for women, she adds.

Next March, the focus of the UN Commission on the Status of Women will be to tackle violence against women and girls and expectations are high for Governments to agree on frameworks that will truly address ending violence against women and girls.

Coinciding with the International Day, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, the only multilateral grant-making mechanism exclusively dedicated to ending all forms of violence against women and girls, is announcing its Call for Proposals for its 17th grant-making cycle. Special focus will be on violence against adolescents and young girls, and proposals that foster their leadership and activism as champions of change.

The Executive Director's Video Message for the Day:

English version: http://youtu.be/SH4tlxxc9nc;

French version: http://youtu.be/IOOfidorjGM;

Spanish version: http://youtu.be/MZRuWu0CEao

Special Compilation on Ending Violence against Women

Message of Michelle Bachelet for the International Day to End Violence against Women

I am often asked whether ending violence against women is possible given the pervasiveness and persistence of these crimes. My answer is yes. It is possible. But we can only do it together. We are all responsible and it is time for leaders to fulfill the promises made to women.

Today on the International Day to End Violence against Women, I call on all leaders: Take a stand to end violence against women and girls.

Last year I launched the 16-step policy agenda. Today, I urge all Heads of State and Government to end the scourge of violence that affects every society by participating in an exciting global initiative to showcase national commitments to end violence against women and girls.

The first step has been taken: the silence has been broken. Today at least 125 countries outlaw domestic violence and there is a large body of legislation on violence against women and girls. There is international agreement on the way forward as articulated in the Beijing Platform for Action.

One hundred and eighty-seven countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Knowledge on the root causes of violence has increased, and women, men and young people continue to mobilize in huge numbers against violence. There are countless organizations whose members work tirelessly to support survivors and, in many countries, policy-makers have taken decisive action. But it is not enough.

We all must do better to protect women and prevent this pervasive human rights violation. Governments and leaders must lead by example. Now is the time for governments to translate international promises into concrete national action.

We hope to see new and improved laws and national action plans that provide for safe houses, free hotline services and free health and legal aid to survivors. We count on education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect, and inspire young people to take leadership on ending violence against women and girls. We need increasing numbers of women in politics, law enforcement, and peacekeeping forces. We need equal economic opportunities and decent jobs for women.

All of these actions require decisive and courageous leaders. Next March, leaders from governments and civil society will come together at the UN Commission on the Status of Women to agree on action to prevent and respond effectively to violence against women. Expectations are high, and they should be. In some countries, up to 7 in 10 women will be beaten, raped, abused, or mutilated in their lifetimes. A crisis of such proportions deserves nothing less than the highest attention of world leaders. There can be no peace, no progress, when women live under the fear of violence.

Today violence against women is increasingly recognized for what it is: a threat to democracy, a barrier to lasting peace, a burden on national economies, and an appalling human rights violation. As more and more people believe that violence against women is neither acceptable nor inevitable, as more and more perpetrators are punished, the change to end violence against women grows deeper and stronger.

This is not just a women's issue, this is a responsibility for all of us. This violence is an outrage and it must be stopped. Time has run out for complacency or excuses. Let us show the will, the determination and let us mobilize greater resources to end what is a scourge of humanity, violence against women.

Yes, it is possible.