This year, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with a focus on the impact of ongoing conflicts and natural disasters on violence against women.
Every day, women and girls face violence in the home, in communities, in conflicts, in aftermaths of natural disasters. It is estimated that up to 70 per cent of women – which is 7 out of every 10 women – experience some form of violence in their life. No human development goal can be achieved as long as women and girls continue to suffer from violence or live in fear of it.
In the ongoing humanitarian crises, from Syria to the Sahel, Afghanistan to Yemen, we see that at every stage of a conflict and in the wake of natural disaster women and girls continue to be the most vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence and abuse.
The impact of violence, and especially rape and other forms of sexual violence are often devastating both physically and emotionally. Consequences may include injuries, unintended pregnancies, and HIV/AIDS. Damage to mental health may lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, and suicide. Social consequences include stigmatization and ostracizing by families and communities.
As an international community, we have not been able to prevent these crimes and human rights violations. But we have the mandate and solid frameworks in place to support our work. The landmark Security Council resolution 1325, which condemns violence against women and girls in conflict situations and following resolutions on peace and security call for urgent and concerted action to protect women, stop impunity, and bring justice.
We can achieve this if we intensify efforts and continue to work together. In partnerships with multiple stakeholders, UNFPA reaches vulnerable and affected women and girls in communities and promotes policies and laws that address all forms of violence against women and girls, including the involvement of men and boys.
UNFPA’s dedication to end violence against women and girls is supported by our work in and advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights using population data and promoting gender equality.
On this International Day on Elimination of Violence Against Women, UNFPA is renewing its commitment to prevent violence against women and girls as part of our obligation to end this brutal human rights violation.