Youth Leadership in Preventing and Ending Violence against Women and Girls


UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet remarks to youth leaders at breakfast event on “Youth Leadership in Preventing and Ending Violence against Women and Girls, hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. November 23, 2011.

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Good morning!

I thank the UN Secretary-General for his leadership. UN Women is proud to participate in and coordinate his campaign UNITE to End Violence against Women. The focus this year is right where it should be — on youth leadership. It's so great to see all of you here.

I encourage and salute your leadership to prevent and end violence against women and girls.

And I congratulate the winners of the global T-shirt design competition! Congratulations!

The movement for equal rights between men and women, to end violence against women, is a movement to end injustice and inequality. By tipping the scales towards justice, we will advance equal opportunities and create societies where women and girls can live free from violence and discrimination.

UN Women was created and began operations January of this year to deliver on the promise in the UN Charter to make gender equality a basic right. It is a cause to which UN Women is deeply committed and success requires partnerships with governments, the private sector, civil societies and above all—women's groups and young people like you.

Today we know that violence against women and girls is not inevitable. However, It can be prevented. And the only way to do so is to take action. There is no more time for excuses. What is needed is stronger action. It's about: Getting it done!

We need to make sure that effective laws that meet international standards are in place. Since we also know that laws are not enough. We need to make sure that laws are applied without bias and that justice is served. We also need to make sure that essential services — legal assistance, health services, shelter and other types of support are available to all women and girls victims of violence.

These are all areas in which UN Women is deeply engaged. One of our core priorities is to end violence against girls and women. It is so great to be here with you all, because young people like you are in the frontlines and your leadership is essential.

Today our world is home to 7 billion people. Young people under the age of 25 make up for 43 percent of the world's total population and young people like you lead the way forward.

You do so each time you stand up for zero tolerance of all forms of violence against women and girls. You do so each time you support a survivor and denounce a perpetrator. You do so each time you question and challenge gender stereotypes that prevent individuals from growing and reaching their potential. You do so each time you speak out and reach out to the media and other partners in raising awareness and demanding action.

And you do so each time you work in your communities and countries to make sure that equality is deeply rooted and continues to grow for future generations.

UN Women is proud to support the work of members of this panel from Guatemala and Lebanon through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. We applaud your leadership and we stand by you all the way!

All of us know that violence against girls and women is not solely a women's issue. It affects all of us. When we take strong action together, we move closer to equality and justice.

I thank you.