International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

22 November 2006
Author: UNFPA

Every woman and girl should live in a home where she is free from the threat of violence. Every girl should be able to attend school without the risk of abuse. Every woman and girl should be free from gender-based violence.

As we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, these would appear to be minimal aspirations shared by all of humanity. They are based on commitments made and reiterated by governments the world over and enshrined in international law.

Yet, data from various countries show that, at some point in their lives, between 10 and 60 per cent of women will suffer physical violence at the hands of their male partners and 20 to 75 per cent will suffer emotional abuse. Up to 20 per cent of women will be targets of sexual violence.

UNFPA is proud to join the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women. We are working with partners to end impunity, to promote and protect the rights of women, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, and to foster equal opportunity, participation and decision-making.

Today, we pay tribute to the women in every country who are bringing these issues to the forefront and demanding justice. We acknowledge the governments and parliaments that have enacted legislation. Today, 89 governments have some legislative provisions that specifically address domestic violence; marital rape may be prosecuted in at least 104 countries; 90 governments have some form of legislative provision against sexual harassment; and 93 nations have legal provisions against human trafficking.

We urge the governments and parliaments that have adopted laws to ensure their implementation. We express appreciation to those who have put in place programmes for women and girls affected by violence. We are heartened by the increased attention being paid to the role of men and boys in preventing violence against women, and the link between gender-based violence and the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Today, we call on all governments and parliaments that have not yet done so to adopt laws, policies and programmes to ensure a quality and compassionate response to victims and to actively monitor the progress that is made. There is much we can learn from each other and we need to share best practices. Our collective success in achieving peace and security and in making poverty history depends on our ability to end discrimination and violence against women and girls.