Statement

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

25 November 2004
Author: UNFPA

Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. It must be stopped.

Constituting a life-long threat to hundreds of millions of girls and women around the world, gender based violence brings with it deep suffering and substantial economic and social costs. Violence against women and girls not only threatens efforts to reduce poverty and poor health; it also threatens efforts to advance peace and security.

The widespread violence against women and girls that we see in our world today points to deeply rooted gender discrimination that must be tackled as a development, peace-building and human rights priority.

UNFPA advocates a four-pronged approach: strengthening laws and policies in line with international agreements; ending impunity; recognizing and responding to the needs of victims; and fostering social mobilization and cultural transformation.

To tackle violence against women and girls, laws and policies must be enforced and implemented, budgets must be allocated, and harmful attitudes and practices must change. From the time they are on their mother’s knee, children must be taught that violence against women and girls is wrong. Schools must reinforce the equal worth and inherent dignity of all human beings, whether male or female.

We need to promote collaboration across all sectors of society in combating this violence and in providing compassion, support, protection and social integration to its victims. As a priority, victims must receive comprehensive legal, psychosocial and health services. Health workers and others need to be trained in counselling, and the treatment of rape, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. It is urgent that survivors of sexual violence receive high-quality reproductive health services.

Today and in the days to come, let us stand in solidarity with the women and girls who strive to live in dignity, free from fear and free of shame.

Let us actively promote, every chance we get, a culture of zero tolerance of violence against women and girls in our homes, schools, places of worship, communities and nations. All of us must work together to end these shameful violations of human rights.

Together we must generate greater understanding that under no circumstances may a state or authority invoke reasons of custom, religion or tradition in order to justify violence against women and girls.