Presentation by Michelle Bachelet and Julia Duncan Cassell at a side event on the COMMIT Initiative


Presentation by Michelle Bachelet and Julia Duncan-Cassell at the high-level side event on the COMMIT Initiative, 5 March, 2013, in New York.

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Minister Duncan-Cassell,
Ambassador Wittig,
Excellencies, colleagues and friends,

Good evening.

I am very happy to be here tonight with all of you. I wish to thank the German Mission for graciously inviting UN Women to use this room for tonight’s event.

We are here at the 2013 Commission on the Status of Women with an opportunity to act.

Many of us have seen recent headlines that underscore the horrific scope of violence against women and girls. But we have also seen how invested many ordinary men and women are in solving it.

And these are just the few stories that make the news. Up to seven in ten women and girls will be beaten, raped, mutilated or otherwise abused during their lives.

The good news is that we have agreed to end it, we know how to end it, and every day there are important steps taken in that direction. If we think courageously and act boldly, we can achieve a world that is free from this most pervasive violation of human rights.

It is this kind of bold leadership that we are commending here tonight. To galvanize momentum, a few short months ago, I invited Governments to join a drive for renewed national action to stop violence against women and girls.

The COMMIT initiative was born, asking governments around the world to make specific new commitments, guided by the 16 Step Policy Agenda that I had launched the year before.

And Governments responded; many of them are represented here tonight. As of today, 48 Governments have come on board!

Now, we can look forward to more effective laws and national strategies grounded in women’s rights. The prosecution of violence cases will be strengthened, such as through police teams dedicated to survivors of abuse, better criminal complaints systems and new provisions to arrest perpetrators. And just this morning I received a letter from European Commission President Barroso, committing among other things to a proposal for a European Protection Order.

Countries have agreed to kick-off advocacy campaigns that engage young people and men, train civil servants to detect violence cases, and expand an array of public services.

National bodies will be established to monitor, improve data collection, and analyze funding by applying a gender lens to judicial and security sector budgets.

Several Governments have further agreed to sign and ratify landmark international and regional commitments, including the legally binding Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

UN Women applauds this groundswell of progress. I am here, though, to tell you that we can, and we must, do even more.

COMMIT does not end here –new momentum for action is within the closest reach. At CSW, we all have an opportunity to express our determined leadership.

I call on all of you to do so by making this CSW successful in advancing the international agenda on ending violence.

Most of all, I urge you to take what you achieve here home to your countries, where change directly touches the lives of women and girls.

I know I can count on you from the overwhelming response to our COMMIT initiative. We had planned to announce all commitments in full tonight – but if we did so, I am afraid we would still be here tomorrow morning.

So I would now like to invite H.E. Julia Duncan-Cassell, Minister for Gender and Development of Liberia to join me in giving you just an impression of the scope of the change that is under way. All commitments are of course fully documented on our website.

Minister Duncan-Cassell:

Thank you so much, Ms. Bachelet.
Excellencies, colleagues and friends,

As the Chair of this year’s all important session of the Commission on the Status of Women, Liberia is proud to announce its commitment to end violence against women. On 19 February, H.E. President Johnson-Sirleaf, announced the following pledge that I am privileged to present here today. Liberia will:

  • Adopt and implement domestic violence legislation;
  • Allocate funds to implement the National Action Plan on Sexual and Gender-based Violence; and
  • Improve women’s access to justice to end impunity for violence against women and girls.

But now, let us hear about the other national commitments. As Ms. Bachelet already said, this is but a glimpse of the innovation announced, so here we go.
Ms. Bachelet, please:

Michelle Bachelet: Albania will remove unaffordable court fees and enhance free legal aid services for survivors.

Minister Duncan-Cassell: Argentina will produce the first-ever national statistics on violence against women which will inform future public policies.

MB: Australia is announcing The Line, a public awareness campaign aimed at young people to develop respectful relationships.

DC: Austria will ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence and make national budgets gender responsive.

MB: Belarus pledges to implement a new law to combat human trafficking.

DC: Belgium pledges to ratify the Council of Europe Convention and expand its National Action Plan.

MB: Bosnia and Herzegovina commits to implement the Council of Europe Convention and to implement an action plan on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

DC: Brazil will implement the Maria da Penha Law on Domestic and Family Violence and address trafficking of women and girls.

MB: Canada will focus its efforts on protection for vulnerable women in poor, immigrant and aboriginal communities and engage men and boys.

DC: Chile will update its National Action Plan on Security Council resolution 1325.

MB: Denmark announces to initiate a national debate and raise awareness to prevent dating violence.

DC: The Dominican Republic pledges to establish a more efficient criminal complaints system to address violence against women and girls.

MB: Fiji will increase the percentage of female police officers from 5 to 20 percent.

DC: Finland will ratify the Council of Europe Convention and initiate legislative reform to ensure the right to sexual self-determination.

MB: France will ratify the Council of Europe Convention and has passed a new sexual harassment law.

DC: And Georgia will ratify the Council of Europe Convention and strengthen efforts to combat domestic violence.

MB: We have already heard from Germany.
Greece will ratify the Council of Europe Convention and create 21 shelters, nine regional and 27 local centers to provide support to survivors.

DC: Guatemala will focus efforts on cases of violence against girls in the national education system and on providing comprehensive care for pregnant girls.

MB: Honduras commits to address violence against indigenous and afro-descendants women in its public policy.

DC: Hungary will include domestic violence under the criminal law as of this year.

MB: Jamaica pledges to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women.

DC: Japan establishes help desk services for survivors of sexual crimes and provides access to female police officers.

MB: We already heard from Liberia.
Mexico will set up Justice Centres for Women to provide comprehensive services to women in situations of violence.

DC: Morocco will launch a multi-sectoral programme this week to make 2013 the year of social mobilization to end violence against women.

MB: Nepal pledges to ensure women’s rights to own land and property, inheritance, equal pay, and safe and decent employment.

DC: The Netherlands will ratify the Council of Europe Convention and provide support for non-governmental organizations worldwide.

MB: New Zealand has announced the introduction of a new restraining order for offenders.

DC: Nigeria pledges to criminalize acts of violence against women and girls and raise public

MB: Norway commits to ratify the Council of Europe Convention and develop a strategy against sexual violence and abuse of children and youth.

DC: In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the Government pledges to take legal action to end violence against women and girls, including so-called honour crimes.

MB: The Government of Papua New Guinea pledges its support for passing of the Domestic Violence Bill and repeal of the 1977 Sorcery Act.

DC: Poland will ratify the Council of Europe Convention and align its national laws accordingly.

MB: Qatar will adopt legislation criminalizing domestic violence, build safe houses and set up a hotline service.

DC: The Republic of Korea commits to implementing a human rights education programme and programmes to prevent sexual violence.

MB: Senegal commits to strengthening legal interventions and judicial, health, advocacy and psychosocial support.

DC: Serbia commits to ratify the Council of Europe Convention.

MB: Slovakia will support a national 24-hour free hotline service and adopt new National Action Plan on Violence against Women.

DC: Spain pledges to mobilize the corporate sector to raise awareness among employees and support survivors.

MB: Sweden will ratify the Council of Europe Convention and has introduced a new law to reinforce penal sanctions against harassment and stalking.

DC: Thailand commits to review its school curricula and educational programmes to integrate gender issues and human rights into formal and non-formal education.

MB: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia pledges to strengthen the capacity of service providers

DC: Togo announces to introduce stronger laws to prevent Female Genital Mutilation.

MB: Tunisia commits to implement its National Action Plan to End Violence against Women.

DC: Turkey will open a women’s shelter in each province and 14 pilot Violence Prevention and Monitoring Centers.

MB: The United States commits to improve evidence collection, police response and health care for survivors of sexual assault.

DC: And finally, Viet Nam pledges to strengthen interventions to end domestic violence.

MB: Thank you all so much for your commitment! And I think all of these important initiatives deserve a round of applause!