16 Days of Activism: UN Women boss calls for collective action in ending GBV
The Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, Sima Bahous, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, today 25 November, said in a statement that the world is celebrating those who are working to protect women and girls and defend their human rights.
“Here at the UN, and across the world, we are celebrating those who are working to protect women and girls and defend their human rights,” Bahous’ statement read. “And we welcome new partners — governments, organizations, institutions, community groups, people everywhere — to join us, raise your voices and work together to transform lives, not only during the 16 Days of Activism but every day.”
She said violence against women is a global crisis.
“Around the world, conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity, and human rights violations are exacerbating violence against women,” Bahous said. “More than 70 percent of women have experienced gender-based violence in some crisis settings. And in countries, both rich and poor, gender prejudice has fuelled acts of violence toward women and girls.”
According to the UN Women boss, violence against women often goes unreported, silenced by stigma, shame, fear of the perpetrators, and fear of a justice system that does not work for women.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, with all its isolation and distancing, has enabled unseen violence: a second, shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls, where they often found themselves in lockdown with their abusers. In all corners of the world, helplines for violence against women saw an increase in reports,” The statement said.
She added that the human rights of women — including the right to security, dignity, equality, and justice — are core principles of international law.
“And we know that the leadership and safety of women, in all their diversity, plays a vital role in economic progress, community welfare, children's health, and education, and more,” The statement read. “All human life benefits when women's human rights are upheld, and we all suffer when those rights are abused.”
Bahous said there is hope and that in recent years much has been achieved to prevent and reduce violence against women and girls and that the challenge now is to expand global efforts and make a difference in more lives.
“Today, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence also opens some exciting hopes. It begins the annual "16 Days against Gender-Based Violence," a series of events aimed at creating real change,” Bahous said. “For 2021, the theme is, "Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!".”Orange" symbolizes a brighter future, free of violence. I welcome and urge you to participate.”