International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Message of the Executive Director on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November

Date: 19 November 2014

Every year, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we are reminded how every day, women and girls experience violence in their lives.

Women are beaten in their homes, harassed on the streets, bullied on the internet. Globally, one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence at some point in her life.

More often than not, violence against women is committed by an intimate partner. Of all women killed in 2012, almost half died at the hands of a partner or family member. It is no exaggeration that the overall greatest threat to women’s lives is men, and often the men they love.

Yet we know how violence against women can be eliminated. In 1995, close to 20 years ago, 189 governments came together in Beijing. They adopted a Platform for Action that spelled out key strategies to end violence against women, empower women, and achieve gender equality.

This includes effective prevention strategies that address the root causes of gender inequality.

This includes better services for women surviving violence, such as hotlines, shelters, legal advice, access to justice, counselling, police protection, and health services.

This includes more accurate reporting rates, better data collection, and strengthened analyses of risk and prevalence factors.

This includes greater support for women’s organizations, which are often on the frontline of the response.

This includes having more men and boys standing up against violence, denouncing it, and stopping it. Male leaders, including traditional and religious leaders, must show the way.

UN Women has launched HeForShe, a global campaign to engage men and boys as advocates and agents of change for the achievement of gender equality and women’s rights. We need men who believe in gender equality to take action now.

A global review of progress and gaps in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action is underway. Preliminary data show that many countries have introduced laws to prohibit, criminalize, and prevent violence against women. Yet implementation and enforcement of these laws are inadequate. Reporting of violence remains low and impunity for perpetrators remains high. Not enough resources are targeted at provision of quality services and effective prevention strategies.

Next year, after the endpoint of the Millennium Development Goals, a new roadmap for development will be adopted by the international community. Ending violence against women and girls must have a central place in this new framework.

The promises from 20 years ago are still valid today. Together we must make 2015 the year that marks the beginning of the end of gender inequality. Now is the time for action.