This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is being commemorated throughout the UN System with a number of special events at Headquarters and in the field, highlighting the Secretary-General’s ongoing campaign to end violence against women.
Violence against women continues to persist as one of the most heinous, systematic and prevalent human rights abuses in the world. In countries rich and poor, women are being beaten, trafficked, raped and killed. At least one out of every three women is likely to fall victim to such abuses in her lifetime.
“These human rights violations do more than harm individuals; they undermine the development, peace and security of entire societies,” said Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon in a statement for the Day, being observed on Tuesday, 25 November.
The General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in December 1999, encouraging governments, international organizations, civil society groups and non-governmental organizations to organize activities around the issue.
The day also kicks off 16 days of worldwide activism to raise awareness of gender-based violence, ending on 10 December, International Human Rights Day, which marks the anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of the Human Rights .
“We need to do more to enforce laws and counter impunity,” said the Secretary-General, stressing the need “to combat attitudes and behaviour that condone, tolerate, excuse or ignore violence committed against women.” The Secretary-General also called for increased funding for services for victims and survivors of gender-based violence.
In February of this year, the Secretary-General launched a multi-year campaign: UNiTE to End Violence against Women , aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. The campaign runs through 2015 to coincide with the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Security Council resolution 1820 (S/RES/1820), adopted in June this year, recognized that the use of sexual violence as a tactic of warfare is a matter that borders on international peace and security. The resolution tasks peacekeeping missions, in particular those with mandates to protect civilians, to include the protection of women and children from all forms of violence in their reporting on conflict situations.
The resolution also requested stronger efforts to implement the vital zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation by UN personnel, and urged troop and police contributing countries to ensure full accountability in cases of misconduct. The adoption of resolution 1820 is part of a growing global trend to address this scourge, noted the Secretary-General.
As a way of supporting the Secretary-General’s campaign, the Division for Gender Affairs in the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean ( ECLAC ), has prepared seven mini video clips , in Spanish, aimed at raising awareness on the situation of violence suffered by many Latin American and Caribbean women.
Under the slogan: “Citizen security begins at home”, each video clip highlights a different aspect of violence against women and suggests measures to “counteract the incalculable costs of violence against women for all of humanity.”
Combating violence against women in Latin America and the
Caribbean is increasingly necessary and urgent, said ECLAC, which also coordinated a regional report on the issue entitled:
While there is adequate legal framework in the region to address violence against women, the three branches of powers hamper its effectiveness with deficiencies and lack of technical, financial and human resources. The problem is aggravated by the persistence of cultural factors that foment impunity. “All of this impedes women from fully using their capabilities and exercising their rights,” says ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena.
Since 1995, most countries in the region have enacted “first generation” laws to address domestic violence. In several countries, the debate continues.
Brazil , Chile , Costa Rica , Mexico and Venezuela have adopted new “second generation” laws to correct procedures and norms that make impunity possible and leave victims unprotected.
In spite of the progress made, Ms. Bárcena said, reforms have not been enough to change the cultural patterns that frame the relationship between men and women. “We hope the video clips may serve as useful tools to create awareness and support each other in this effort.”
In addition to the videos, there is a message of ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena, and other audio-visual material with testimonies of women victims belonging to the Community Defense Councils of Peru. The project won the 2005-2006 contest for the Experiences in Social Innovation , organized by ECLAC with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
On Tuesday, 25 November, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, in conjunction with the Office of the UN Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women ( OSAGI ) and the United Nations Population Fund ( UNFPA) will organize a high-level event with representatives of the UN system, governments and civil society. The programme in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium at 10 a.m. will feature a panel that will take stock of the achievements of 15 years of work of the Special Rapporteur and highlight some of the emerging issues and challenges.
The UN Development Fund for Women ( UNIFEM ) will hold a press conference at 12:30 p.m. in Room: S-226, to announce the results of the Say NO to Violence against Women campaign, an Internet-based initiative that has been targeting one million signatures since last November. UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman will hand over to the Secretary-General, the signatures collected during the campaign. The event which hosts guest speakers from around the world, takes place at 1 p.m. in the ECOSOC Chamber.
“Mika,” a play developed and performed by the theatre ensemble Tiyatroglobal, and inspired by the Secretary-General’s call to Unite to End Violence against Women, will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber. The invitation-only event, being organized by the Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality ( IANWGE ), will seek to demonstrate the diverse manifestations of violence against women and how the world can make a difference in creating a world where women are respected. I n prepared remarks, the Secretary-General thanked IANWGE for its outstanding leadership in addressing the absolutely critical problem of violence against women.