On Human Rights Day on December 10, 2017, Executive Directors of UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women, Natalia Kanem and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and the Administrator of UN Development Programme (UNDP) Achim Steiner, gave a joint statement on the necessity of ending violence against women and fighting for global freedom, equality and dignity
On Human Rights Day on December 10, 2017, Executive Directors of UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women, Natalia Kanem and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and the Administrator of UN Development Programme (UNDP) Achim Steiner, gave a joint statement on the necessity of ending violence against women and fighting for global freedom, equality and dignity.
On December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which asserted that all humans are born free and equal in rights and dignity.
It promoted freedom of speech and belief across the globe, as well as freedom from fear and want.
As the UN’s global campaign of 16 Days of Activism came to an end, the organisation focused on the need to end gender-based violence in order to realise these goals.
The elimination of violence, including sexual abuse, should go hand in hand with the guarantee of human rights, including reproductive rights, stated the three officials.
They also offered statistics on the current state of gender inequality in the world.
Globally, 1 in 3 women have suffered sexual or physical violence at some point in their lives, with most acts committed by an intimate partner.
Nearly 750 million women and girls living around the world were married before age 18 and more than 200 million were subjected to female genital mutilation.
Of all trafficking victims worldwide, 70% are women and girls and 3 out of 4 of these victims have been sexually exploited.
Kanem, Mlambo-Ngcuka and Steiner referenced the 155 laws in effect around the world that discriminate against women and called for new laws to be enacted to ensure women’s empowerment and equality.
They also urged collaboration between judiciary and law enforcement services, women’s organisations and youth groups, to combat discriminatory attitudes and stereotypes.
Furthermore, they pressed for support of services for survivors of violence, including psychological counselling and safe spaces.
A number of UN efforts and initiatives to help eliminate violence against women and girls were highlighted, including the Spotlight Initiative.
It was launched in September 2017 in collaboration with the EU to end gender-based violence by 2030, in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals.
It is particularly focused on family and domestic violence, sexual and gender-based violence, harmful practices such as FGM, femicide, human trafficking and labour exploitation.
Working with public and private sectors, the initiative aims to implement and strengthen laws to tackle social norms that perpetuate such abuses.
The three UN representatives said: “We acknowledge the value of ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things—women and men—who risk standing up for the protection of rights and access to justice, as well as the civil society and media organizations who amplify these calls and do so much to hold their governments to the highest standards.
“All around the world, in every country, women and girls still struggle to exercise their full human rights, even to be seen as full human beings.
“Violence against women and girls is perhaps the most obvious manifestation of the deep imbalances in power in our societies, and the vulnerabilities and limitations that follow them, especially for the most marginalized, and especially in crisis contexts, when vulnerabilities are at their peak and protections at their lowest point.
“Defending women and girls’ rights means understanding and addressing these effects holistically.”
Read More: UN Women and its global partners have organised a range of public events, as part of the campaign UniTE to End Violence against Women by 2030, which are taking place November 25 to December 10, 2017