Action on ending violence against young women and girls
Violence against women and girls constitutes a grave violation of human rights and remains one of the greatest challenges to achieving gender equality. Girls and young women and particularly vulnerable to various forms of violence, which leaves deep and long term impacts on their lives, stifling their potential to grow, lead, prosper and thrive.
Youth engagement and leadership is imperative for accelerating and sustaining progress on preventing and ending violence against young women and girls. Prevention must start early in life through promoting respectful relationships and transforming the social norms in which gender-based violence and discrimination is rooted. In particular, engaging young men and boys in the prevention of violence against young women and girls is critical.
Ending violence against women and girls is the primary mandate of UN Women. UN Women works to make private and public spaces safer for women and girls through prevention, support, and advocacy, and facilitates youth-led solutions and action.
UN Women and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts have developed the “Voices against Violence” curriculum to engage young people in gender-based violence prevention efforts. More than 5,000 youth leaders across 35 countries have been trained using the curriculum and over 28,000 youth at the grassroots levels have completed the curriculum. Youth participants have shown improved knowledge, awareness and attitudes.
In Viet Nam, the Y.Change survey and advocacy supported by UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality led to the first survey conducted by youth activists on dating violence in Viet Nam. Presented with the findings of the survey, which showed almost 59 per cent of young women had experienced violence, the CEDAW Committee recommended revision of the national law to penalize all forms of violence against women, including dating violence.
In south-west Colombia, young people were trained to prevent violence against women and build non-violent masculinities, as part of the programme, “Overcoming Violence Against Women”, implemented by UN Women in partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). In the township of Timbio, this led to the development and adoption of a Municipal Decree by the Mayor to stop street harassment.
Youth engagement for ending violence against women and girls has been a key component of UN Women’s signature campaigns, including the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality, the UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign, and the Safe Cities initiative.