Statement by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at a panel discussion on violence against women across the European Union

Statement by UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri at a panel discussion on violence against women across the European Union: presentation of a 2014 European Union-wide survey, New York, 14 May 2014.


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Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this critically important panel, which highlights the ground breaking work undertaken by the European Union (EU). It was a pleasure to be presented with a seminal contribution on ending violence against women, which is significant not only for the EU but for countries everywhere.

I would also like to congratulate the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights for undertaking such an extensive, important survey. It is appropriate for the Agency to conduct such a survey, considering one of the most egregious offenses against fundamental rights is violence against women.

I consider this survey as a timely contribution of the European Union to the implementation of critical areas of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), such as Violence Against Women (VAM) and the human rights of women. We also consider this event as a commemoration to the 20 year anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, which is a path-breaking framework for women rights that is still relevant today. This is especially true for violence against women and girls because the BPfA is comprehensive and articulates activities for specific actors involved at different levels of response and prevention. It urges stakeholders to address both the causes and consequences of violence against women through integrated measures.

One of the most important findings of this survey is that women do not report acts of violence. Breaking the silence means that we must address three things. First, women and girls must recognize that it is not their shame. Second women and girls must claim their rights, and third, we must all work to prevent the normalization of this violence.

The findings of the survey also confirm the emerging consensus of the international community not only to include a stand-alone goal on gender equality together with gender mainstreaming in the post-2015 development agenda, but that ending violence against women was a missing component of the MDGs.

They also confirm the significance of the internationally agreed 9 indicators on violence against women, reinforced most recently during CSW58, and the importance of the collection of comprehensive, comparable data for monitoring the prevalence and incidence of violence against women as well as for formulating effective interventions.

It is undoubtedly the single largest survey conducted across the world on violence against women. It is also most timely with the recent entry into force of the European Convention preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention.

Not only is the EU survey significant because it provides, comprehensive national representative data on all 28 Member States, but it is very progressive in the range of data included.

The study not only includes findings on the standard indicators of intimate partner and non-partner physical and sexual violence, but also provides data on other forms of violence including psychological violence, stalking, sexual harassment, children’s exposure to violence in the family.

It even begins to explore the continually evolving impact of social and new media by exploring women’s experience with social websites, inappropriate SMS texting and cyber-harassment.

The survey demonstrates that even in countries where significant work has been undertaken over decades to address violence against women and girls, many women still experience unacceptable high levels of violence during their life.

One of the messages this gives us is that – in addition to having adequate legislation and policies in place and providing quality coordinated services and responses for women subject to violence, to assist in their recovery and to stop violence from reoccurring – we also need to work harder to stop violence from happening in the first place.

We all need to work on developing comprehensive approaches for prevention, that is, those interventions that address the root causes of violence against women and the risk factors which increase its likelihood of occurring.  The root causes are gender inequality and discrimination of women.

We have to make sure that we work at all levels of society – with communities, families and individuals – and in every sector, public and private, to ensure that we work towards achieving gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment, as well as eliminate and prevent violence against women once and for all. This should be part of the post-2015 development agenda.

Ending violence against women is not only a critical area of concern on its own, as outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action, but also impacts, women’s and girls’ education, health, participation, economic empowerment and a range of other issues. UN Women is working towards ending all forms of violence against women and girls, stressing the implementation of existing commitments. As you know, this is one of our top five priorities of our current Strategic Plan.

But all our priorities in support of achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women contribute to better prevention. This is true of promoting greater political participation by women and working towards their economic empowerment.

In addition to the role UN Women plays at the global normative level through support to the Commission of the Status of Women, the relevant resolutions at the General Assembly and other inter-governmental processes, UN Women works at the regional and national levels to address all forms of violence, often in collaboration with partners.

We develop programmes and provide technical advice that is based on the latest knowledge and best practices. At all levels we work on laws and policies, services, prevention, and data and research to ensure comprehensive approaches are developed to address violence against women in both private and public spaces.

There is now greater evidence than ever before on the prevalence of violence against women.  Over 90 countries have national data, although often of different quality and not comparable. In June last year, the World Health Organization was able to release its first global and regional estimates on the prevalence of violence based on national level data.

Most importantly, we now have – for the first time – globally agreed nine indicators on violence against women that will ensure the data being collected is what is needed and is consistent across countries.

UN Women, together with other key agencies such as the World Bank, the UN Statistical Division and other agencies has developed a global proposal to roll out the nine, core VAW indicators on VAW in several pilot countries. The work we are planning to do in relation to rolling out the nine core indicators means that there is no reason why all countries cannot have reliable data on violence against women.

This is a critical initiative, especially leading into the post-2015 development agenda, and the review and commemoration of the 20 year anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action.

As a part of UN Women’s review and commemoration of the BPfA we are seeking to mobilize the masses around the 12 critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action. In this regard UN Women seeks to use the 16 days of Ending Violence against Women, this year, to mobilize people around the world, to express their outrage toward violence against women and to support efforts the end it. We encourage the EU, as well as other countries to host marches, races and other similar events to support UN Women’s efforts.

Thank you.