International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

"Together, we are shining a light on acts that bring pain, shame and fear to girls and women" - Executive Director

Speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the official UN commemoration of the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women, ECOSOC Chamber, New York, 25 November 2014

Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

[Check against delivery]

Mr. Secretary-General,
Ms. McCray,
Ms. Hatcher,
Ms. Goksel,
Excellencies,
Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The activities around this day, and the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence that follow it, are an important opportunity for us to confront the horror of this violence and to commit to extinguish it.

The women’s experiences we have just seen, and the one billion girls and women that they represent, are a poignant and invigorating reminder that this is work that cannot wait.

No country, no culture, no age group is untouched by this massive and pervasive human rights violation.

Far too often, sexual and gender-based crimes go unpunished and the perpetrators walk free. Society turns a blind eye and a deaf ear.

That is going to change.

Yesterday we lit up the Empire State Building and our own UN building as bright orange beacons of promise and hope for a brighter future with no violence against women and girls.

Together, we are shining a light on acts that bring pain, shame and fear to girls and women.

We must continue to gather national facts and figures – and use them to inform the development of effective legislation and policies. 

We must uphold the existing laws and provisions that prevent violence and support survivors – and implement them.

We must develop quality essential services for the protection, ongoing safety and recovery of survivors – and get women to use them

And we must all refuse absolutely to condone or participate in harmful acts against women and girls.

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.

We all have a role in changing norms that accept or ignore violence and confer sexual entitlement.

We all have a role in brightening this world and establishing inclusive, equal societies.

Next year, a new roadmap for development will be adopted by the international community.

Ending violence against women and girls must have a central place in the new framework so that we can make 2015 the beginning of the end of gender inequality.