UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign

Orange Day February 2015
Photo: UN Women/Daniel Hodgson

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women, is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world. It calls on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media, and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. Read more.

2021 context and UNiTE campaign theme

Prevalence figures released by the World Health Organization based on 2018 data confirmed that 1 in 3 women around the world have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or non-partner, indicating that levels of violence against women and girls (VAW/G) remained disturbingly high, and gains in women’s rights fragile [1]. In the most extreme cases, violence against women is lethal: globally, an estimated 137 women are killed by their intimate partner or a family member every day. An estimated 1 in 7 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner or husband in the past 12 months (13 per cent of women aged 15–49) [2]. These numbers do not reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Increases in violence against women, related to COVID-19 and lockdown measures, continue to be reported to helplines, police forces and other service providers, which is a significant concern. During the pandemic, calls to helplines have increased five-fold in some countries as rates of reported intimate partner violence increase [3]. Restricted movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity are increasing women’s vulnerability to violence in the home around the world.

In addition to the impact of COVID-19, there is an evident increase in VAW/G globally due to the ongoing crises caused by natural disasters, such as the earthquake in Haiti, as well as manmade disasters such as conflicts and war, including the current complex situation in Afghanistan. Consequently, maintaining the hard-won advancements in women’s rights and eliminating VAW/G have become vital.

For these reasons, the UNiTE campaign will be focusing on the interconnections between crises-related, rapidly changing contexts and the rise of violence against women and girls in all forms and manifestations under its 2021 theme, “Orange the world: End violence against women now!” Read concept note.

Ending gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19

Violence against women and girls (VAWG), and particularly domestic violence, has dramatically escalated around the world in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many countries went into lockdown, access to services and justice for survivors of violence, as well as prevention efforts, were severely curtailed. Current estimates indicate that for every three months the lockdown continues, an additional 15 million women are expected to be affected by violence [4]. The global cost of violence against women is estimated at approximately 2 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP), or USD 1.5 trillion [5].

In April 2020, the United Nations Secretary-General urged all governments to make the prevention and redress of violence against women and girls a key part of their national response plans for COVID-19. The appeal was answered in a statement by 146 Member States and Observers who expressed strong support.

As a follow up to the Secretary-General’s call, the Secretary-General’s Executive Committee also adopted a “Political engagement strategy” for the entire UN system to mobilize commitments and action to end gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19.

The efforts will aim to:

  • Accelerate concrete policy responses to gender-based violence in the context of COVID-19 and
  • Promote zero tolerance of gender-based violence across all spheres of society everywhere.

All governments are called to make commitments and undertake policy actions around four key action areas:

  • FUND
  • PREVENT
  • RESPOND
  • COLLECT

More details can be found in the UNiTE Campaign’s bimonthly action circulars:

Join Say NO–UNiTE on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up to get email alerts, to become part of a global network of people committed to realizing a future that is free from violence against women and girls.


Notes

[1] UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. 2021. UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women annual report 2020.

[2] World Health Organization. 2021. Violence against women prevalence estimates, 2018.

[3] General Assembly. 2020. Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women: Report of the Secretary-General.

[4] UNFPA. 2020. “Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on family planning and ending gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and child marriage”. UNFPA technical note, 27 April 2020.

[5] UN Secretary-General. 2020. Policy brief: The impact of COVID-19 on women.