UNFPA and UN Women Launch Joint Global Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence

  • 04 December 2013

UNITED NATIONS, New York – UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and UN Women are joining forces to launch a new programme that will improve the quality of and access to essential services that respond to the needs of women and girls subjected to violence.

The four-year Joint Global Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence aims to reach global consensus on standards and guidelines for delivering quality essential services, providing technical advice to implement them, and building the capacity of service providers to deliver them.

Building on the success of the 57th Session of the Commission of the Status of Women earlier this year, and with support from the Australian Government, the Joint Essential Services Programme will fill the gap between international commitments and country-level activities for responding to gender-based violence. It will assist countries in fulfilling their international obligations to provide quality essential services, as well as increase access to services for women and girls irrespective of where they live.

“While gender-based violence affects women and men, girls and boys, both scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that women and girls – especially adolescent girls – are not only at highest risk of and primary targets for gender-based violence, but also suffer the gravest consequences,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin at the launch of the programme. “As a result of gender discrimination and lower socio-economic status, women and girls have fewer options and resources to avoid or escape abusive situations and to seek justice. That is why the Essential Services Programme is so important.”

The four-year Essential Services Programme is critically important because it tackles the continuum of violence and the key entry-points to address it – health, justice, social services – alongside the necessary coordination mechanisms.

“The legacy and mandate entrusted by the ICPD Programme of Action and other international commitments, such as the MDGs and the Beijing Declaration, also give UNFPA added impetus and responsibility to work on this issue,” said Dr. Osotimehin. “We use multiple opportunities to step up our response to gender-based violence through our regular programmes at all levels, including advocacy, policy formulation, community mobilization, and service delivery.”

UNFPA is also currently working on addressing specific forms of violence, including female genital mutilation/cutting, child marriage, gender-biased pre-natal sex selection, and sexual violence in armed conflict and humanitarian settings.

Looking ahead, Dr. Osotimehin added: “We are pleased to partner with UN Women on this initiative and to join them in advocating for a goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment in the post-2015 development agenda.”

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