Joint statement by Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Secretary-general of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, on the UNiTE Campaign to End Violence against Women


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Violence against women is a violation of human rights and an impediment to achieving gender equality. The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) joins UN Women in the collective and resolute fight for gender equality and against the pandemic of violence against women and the denial of their rights.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the existing high levels of all forms of violence against women. As the world retreated to the refuge of their homes, for many women, this was not a safe harbour. Reports worldwide have shown an alarming increase in domestic violence, clearly making this a shadow pandemic that calls for concerted action by world leaders, of a similar intensity as our response to the virus.

The coronavirus is reshaping our world and deepening inequalities in our societies, especially affecting women who are losing jobs faster and getting poorer quicker. Together, we must ensure coordinated and inclusive response and recovery efforts, to build economies and societies that are healthy, equitable, safe, clean, and resilient for all - including our women and girls.

The UNiTE Campaign to End Violence against Women “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”, marks 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Beginning on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the campaign ends on 10 December, International Human Rights Day. This underlines the urgency of ending violence in order for women to enjoy their full rights, and the centrality of women in shaping the path to do so.

At the ninth Summit of OACPS Heads of State and Government, held in 2019, the OACPS reaffirmed its commitment to, “mainstreaming gender in its security policies and creating the legal basis for the reduction of impunity for gender-based violence, including the meaningful participation and contribution of women in formulating these policies, especially in times of conflict and political instability”.

As we mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the historic Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we acknowledge the need to keep advocating for inclusive, egalitarian societies that empower women, as a sine qua non for sustainable development, and the vital importance of tackling current inadequacies in justice and security that fail women in need.

We note the actions by UN Women to achieve women’s rights for an equal future; notably the multi-stakeholder and intergenerational platforms of Generation Equality, the Action Coalition on gender-based violence and its, “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” campaign, which demands equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, health care services that respond to their needs, and equal participation in political life and in decision-making in all areas of life.

We recognise that to make a significant impact in these areas requires building upon other highly relevant, ongoing processes. We call therefore on our Member States and partners to ensure that strategies are enforced and implemented to not only put an end to discrimination and violence against women and girls in keeping with Sustainable Development Goal 5, but to focus on building societies where women are fully empowered and their contributions are equally recognised. Furthermore, we urge greater collaboration amongst our development partners and an increased involvement with the two initiatives led by UN Women on Generation Equality and ending gender-based violence, and are encouraged by the work undertaken in the context of the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls.