Statement by the Heads of UN agencies, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF and UN WOMEN, calling for solidarity with survivors and survivor advocates and women’s human rights defenders who are working to prevent and end violence against women and girls.
To commemorate this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Secretary-General’s UNiTE Campaign is calling upon us to stand in solidarity with survivors and survivor advocates and women’s human rights defenders who are working to prevent and end violence against women and girls. Our duty is not only to stand in solidarity with them but also to intensify our efforts to find solutions and measures to stop this preventable global scourge with a detrimental impact on women’s and girls’ lives and health.
The last year has been extraordinary in terms of the awareness that has been raised on the extent and magnitude of the different forms of violence inflicted on women and girls. The #MeToo campaign—one of the most viral and powerful social movements of recent times—has brought this issue into the spotlight. This awareness has been further reinforced by the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 to two remarkable activists, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege, who work on ending violence against women in conflict situations.
More than a third of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives. Furthermore, research indicates that the cost of violence against women could amount annually to around 2 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). This is equivalent to 1.5 trillion dollars.
Beyond raising awareness, governments, the private sector, the artistic community, civil society organizations, academia and engaged citizens are again looking into new ways to urgently address this global scourge.
For more than 20 years, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women has been investing in national and local initiatives that translate policy promises into concrete benefits for women and girls, and contribute to the prevention of violence in the long run.
As part of the Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls, a global, multi-year partnership between the United Nations and the European Union, we are working with different partners to increase the scale and level of ambition of our interventions. We understand that reducing and preventing violence against women is transformational: it improves the heath of women and children, reduces risks of acquiring HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), improves economic productivity and educational attainment, and reduces the risks of mental illness and substance abuse, among other benefits.
Through the Spotlight Initiative, our agencies are mobilizing an array of stakeholders to address both the root causes of violence as well as its most immediate consequences. In line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the initiative fully integrates the principle of leaving no one behind. Spotlight will also build on existing good practices and evidence-based programming, as well as incorporate new solutions for accelerated results.
The UN family is working tirelessly with our partners to strengthen legal frameworks and institutions, to improve services for survivors, and to address the root causes of violence by challenging social norms and behaviours and tackling the wider gender inequalities.
Ending violence against women and girls is not a short-term endeavor. It requires coordinated and sustained efforts from all of us. Showing that these efforts yield results is the best tribute to survivors and the survivor advocates and women’s human rights defenders that we are celebrating today.