International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Remarks by Michelle Bachelet on the occasion of the Official Commemoration of the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women

Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Remarks by Michelle Bachelet on the occasion of the Official Commemoration of the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women. A Promise is A Promise. 28 November 2012.

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There is nothing excusable about violence against women and girls anywhere, at any time. Nothing.

I am sure that everyone in this room knows many frightful numbers or statistics that remind us why we must take violence against women and girls so seriously. Behind those numbers we are talking about real stories, about real women whose basic human rights are violated and who experience these horrific crimes in all parts of the world. I want these women and girls to be heard in this room today and here is what they have to say.

Every time I hear the stories of victims and survivors across the world, I am deeply struck by both the dreadfulness of their experiences and the courage they display in telling their story - let alone their courage in dealing with the attacks and the violence to which they were subjected. I admire their determination and the strength they find in themselves to keep on going.

These survivors we just heard are the reason why we are here today and the reason why talking is not enough. Because of the harshness of their daily existence we cannot afford to lose the battle against violence and must go beyond just statistics and words.

It is because of these women that we must bring about real change and unleash opportunities for all women and girls of the world.

Every day police officers respond to calls for assistance, from sexual violence to intimate partner violence leading to fatalities. Every day in every country, women - our friends, neighbors, sisters, daughters, aunts and mothers - are beaten, have acid thrown at their faces, are harassed in schools and on the streets, raped in parks or on their way to markets.

I am in no doubt that there would be many more women and girls in danger if it was not for the work we all have done so far. There is a greater knowledge today, more than ever before, and there are international agreements and treaties specifically aimed at ending violence against women and girls. However, we must go further than commitments and words - promises have to be delivered, action must be taken.

Last year I launched UN Women's 16-step policy agenda to end violence against women.

This year I sent a letter to all Heads of State and Government of the members of the United Nations, urging them to announce specific commitments to end violence against women and girls. I commend those who have already stepped forward and I encourage others to do the same, for the women we heard today.

We need to enforce and implement new and improved national laws and action plans that provide for safe houses, free hotline services and free legal and medical aid to survivors. We need to guarantee the right to sexual and reproductive health. We need education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect. We need increasing numbers of women in politics, law enforcement, and peacekeeping forces. We need equal economic opportunities and decent jobs for women and young female graduates.

This coming March, world leaders from governments and civil society organizations will come together at the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women to agree on actions to prevent and respond effectively to violence against women. Expectations are high, and they should be.

Violence against women and girls is an outrage and a gross violation of human rights. It must be stopped through the implementation of existing international treaties, standards and agreements. This requires decisive and courageous leaders to translate these international promises into tangible national actions and to make a true difference in the lives of the women and girls we just heard in the video earlier.

This requires the will, the determination and a commitment to implement specific actions at the national level.

I have confidence that together we can end violence against women and girls and keep the promises.

Thank you.

Related Video

A Promise is A Promise

‘A Promise is A Promise' is the official video of the United Nations Secretary-General's Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.