Statement

End Violence Against Women

10 October 2006
Author: UNFPA

(Delivered by Safiye Cagar, Director, Information, Executive Board and Resource Mobilization Division)

Mr. Chairman,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, welcomes the landmark report of the Secretary-General on all forms of violence against women. UNFPA contributed to the preparation of this in-depth study and we are committed to carrying its recommendations forward.

We will continue to work with partners to more forcefully address violence against women and girls as a serious human rights violation and to end impunity. Widespread impunity not only encourages further abuses and suffering, it also sends the signal that male violence against women is acceptable or normal.

It is time to end tolerance and complicity. We cannot make poverty history unless we make violence against women history. We cannot stop the spread of HIV unless we stop discrimination and violence against women and girls. We cannot build a world of peace, development and security until we end violence against women and girls.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce poverty, improve health and promote equality will not be met unless greater attention and resources are devoted to ending violence against women.

Today, far too many women are subjected to violence and made to feel shame. The real shame belongs to a world that often blames women for the crimes committed against them, and allows such widespread violence to continue.

It is the responsibility of governments and society as a whole to condemn violence against women and to take action to eliminate it. And it is the responsibility of UNFPA and the United Nations system to support States and peoples in this urgent effort.

We recognize the grass-roots work of women’s organizations and the women’s movement for bringing the issue of violence against women and girls from the private to the public domain. Countless women have put and continue to put their lives at risk by highlighting the issue and demanding justice. It is our job to support them.

Violence against women is not only a serious human rights violation; it is an affront to women’s reproductive health and rights and their freedom at large.

UNFPA works to ensure that addressing violence against women and girls is an integral part of the sexual and reproductive health programmes it supports. For millions of women around the world, their visit to a health clinic may be the only opportunity they have to get the services and support they need to begin to heal and escape violence and abuse.

UNFPA fully agrees with the recommendation in the report that entities of the United Nations system and all other donors should provide increased resources for national action plans to prevent and eliminate violence against women, particularly in the least developed countries and in countries emerging from conflict. We are prepared to intensify work within United Nations country teams to support national action plans on violence against women.

This recommendation is in line with the Brussels Call to Action, which was adopted last May at the International Symposium on Violence against Women in Conflict Situations and Beyond. The meeting, sponsored by the European Commission, the Government of Belgium and UNFPA, included participants from a number of conflict-affected countries as well as United Nations partners.

UNFPA agrees with the experts of the United Nations Millennium Project that launching national campaigns to reduce violence against women is a quick win to improve the well-being of millions of people and to achieve the MDGs.

We are committed to working in partnership with others. And I would like to stress that we will never put a stop to violence against women until men are made partners and both girls and boys are raised in a culture of mutual respect and responsibility, and equal opportunity.

Over the years, we have made progress, together with partners, in bringing national laws into compliance with international standards; in providing a range of services to victims; in training and sensitizing police, justice officials, armed forces and United Nations peacekeepers; in reaching out to men; in combating harmful practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage; and in promoting gender equality and zero tolerance of violence against women through curricula in the formal education system, youth peer counsellors, advocacy campaigns, community dialogues, and the news media.

Yet, despite the work that has been done, we fully agree with the conclusion of the Secretary-General’s report that, “violence against women has yet to receive the priority attention and resources needed at all levels to tackle it with the seriousness and visibility necessary.”

As an international community, it is our job to redress this global injustice.

UNFPA has worked with partners in countries in every region of the world and has experience from which to build a more coordinated and effective response. I would like to share with you some examples.

In Kenya, Uganda and a growing number of countries, women who traditionally performed female genital mutilation/cutting have turned into powerful allies against it. In Bangladesh, despite long-standing traditions of child marriage and the exchange of dowries, many villagers now recognize these practices as harmful and are pressuring their peers to reject them. In Turkey, during the height of the football season, a captive audience of Turkish men sat in front of their television sets and watched as players donned T-shirts and paraded banners saying ‘No to Violence against Women’.

In Romania, Mauritania and other countries, data gathered by UNFPA on violence shed light on a problem that had previously gone unnoticed and served as a justification for subsequent action. In India, data on declining sex ratios, gathered together with the Government, triggered media attention and further government action to stop sex-selective abortion and female infanticide. In Nepal and other nations, communities are taking action to prevent the trafficking of women and girls through education and the provision of social services. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 14 countries now include human rights, gender and sexual and reproductive health in their training programmes for police and/or national armed forces. In dozens of countries, laws that discriminate against women have been replaced with new laws that uphold women’s rights.

And in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations system and a wide range of partners are working with the government to address sexual violence in the first national programme of its kind in a conflict-affected country.

UNFPA agrees with the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report on the need to strengthen data collection and research to guide legislative, policy and programme development and monitoring and evaluation. We will continue to work within the United Nations system and with governments to develop statistical capacity and coherence.

All over the world, progress towards ending violence against women has begun. What is needed at this critical juncture is bold leadership matched with the allocation of significant resources. It is our hope that the Secretary-General’s study will generate much stronger action at all levels. UNFPA is committed to a strengthened United Nations system response to end violence against women.

I thank you.

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