Call to action for a better future

The United Nations (UN) has launched a campaign of action, including a series of initiatives to call on the international community, to make greater efforts to eliminate violence against women and girls. The UN emphasised that commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals will remain unrealised if violence does not end for women and girls to have a brighter future.
With the theme ‘UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls’, the global campaign will run from November 25 to December 10 (Photo: UN Women)
With the theme ‘UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls’, the global campaign will run from November 25 to December 10 (Photo: UN Women)

The UN Secretary-General and the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) have launched a campaign, to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls around the world. It calls for action on a global scale to raise awareness, and promote policies and solutions to addressing issues related to violence against women and girls.

With the theme ‘UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls’, the global campaign will run for 16 days from November 25 and will end on Human Rights Day (December 10).

The 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.”

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations. It remains unreported mainly due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.

According to a report released by UN Women, ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, of all the women and girls intentionally killed last year, some 56% were killed by intimate partners or other family members (45,000 out of 81,000).

UN Women Executive Director, Sima Bahous said that over the past decade, the overall number of female homicides has remained largely unchanged. It is a horrific reminder that violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive human rights violations worldwide.

Violence limits women’s and girls’ participation in all walks of life, denies their basic rights and freedoms, and blocks the equal economic recovery and sustainable growth our world needs.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Global crises and regional conflicts aggravate, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, up to 45% of women polled said they or a woman they know has suffered at least one form of sexual assault or violence.

Global crises and conflict have further intensified violence against women and girls. According to a UN study, since the start of COVID-19, 45% of women reported that they or a woman they know has experienced a form of violence.

Statistics also showed that natural disasters, many of which are made more likely by climate change, aggravate all types of gender-based violence against women and girls. This was already seen in contexts as diverse as Hurricane Katrina (2005), the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand (2011), tropical cyclones in Vanuatu (2011), heatwaves in Spain (2008–2016) and bush fires in Australia (2019–2020).

The Global Gender Gap Report 2022 even showed that gender parity may not be achieved for a further 132 years.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that violence “limits women’s and girls’ participation in all walks of life, denies their basic rights and freedoms, and blocks the equal economic recovery and sustainable growth our world needs”.

While upholding that it is time for “transformative action” that ends violence against women and girls, the UN leader outlined what needed to be done, including that governments design, fund and implement national action plans to tackle this scourge.