SRSG Natalia Gherman, Head of UNRCCA, message for the global awareness-raising campaign entitled ‘Act to end violence against women now’ to mark 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
On 25 November, we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and start the16 Days annual campaign supported by the Secretary General’s initiative – “UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women”.
On 7 February 2000, the General Assembly adopted resolution officially designating 25 November as the International day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and in doing so, invited governments, international organizations as well as NGOs to join together and organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the issue every year.
As violence against women and girls remains the most pervasive human rights violation around the world, raising and improving awareness is one of the most effective tool to overcome it. There are many ways how we can jointly and successfully address this issue:
- It is a matter of public awareness. Societies need a well-targeted, long-term information and awareness campaigns on international and national levels targeting both women and men;
- It is a matter of advocacy. Women leaders, women civil society activists and politicians should leverage their influence to transform laws and norms into action.
- A lot depends on education. It is vital to incorporate this matter into the educational system and training programs for teachers and other education professionals. This can be complimented by community-based awareness activities that encourage public response to incidences, and actions dedicated to empowering women and girls;
At the same time, there are multiple steps that can and should be taken by the governments to eradicate violence against women and girls in all its forms, for example:
- Repeal all laws that discriminate on the grounds of gender and strengthen the legal and institutional framework in this field;
- Adopt human rights-based National Gender Equality Action Plans and Programs on prevention and response;
- Establish confidential, non-discriminatory and an easily available national, subnational and local referral mechanism for victims/survivors;
- Enhance partnership between state actors and civil society and ensure financial support to civil society initiatives combating gender based violence;
- Victims/survivors must be legally empowered through information about their rights, legal procedures and protection mechanisms. They must have access to government provided free and timely legal aid.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that gender based violence and violence against women and girls continue to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfilment of women and girls’ rights. The promise of the Sustainable Development Goals - to leave no one behind - cannot be fulfilled without putting an end to violence against women and girls. And therefore we should continue and strengthen our joint efforts to fight abuse, harassment, discrimination, and violence against women.