Until women and girls can live free of fear, violence and insecurity, the world cannot pride itself on being fair and equal said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his message for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, marked annually on 25 November.
“Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic” emphasized the UN Chief and continued that violence is a moral affront to all women and girls, a mark of shame on all our societies and a major obstacle to inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.
“At its core, violence against women and girls is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect – a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women. It is an issue of fundamental human rights” said Guterres.
The Secretary General explained that violence can take many forms — from domestic attacks to trafficking, from sexual violence in conflict to child marriage, genital mutilation and femicide. It harms the individual and has far-reaching consequences for families and society. This is also a deeply political issue. Violence against women is tied to broader issues of power and control in our societies.
“We live in a male-dominated society. Women are made vulnerable to violence through the multiple ways in which we keep them unequal” stated Guterres.
“In the past year we have seen growing attention to one manifestation of this violence. Sexual harassment is experienced by most women at some point in their lives. Increasing public disclosure by women from all regions and all walks of life is bringing the magnitude of the problem to light and demonstrating the galvanizing power of women’s movements to drive the action and awareness needed to eliminate harassment and violence everywhere” stated the UN Chief.
This year, the global United Nations UNiTE campaign to end violence against women and girls is highlighting UN’s support for survivors and advocates under the theme ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo’. With orange as the unifying colour of solidarity, the #HearMeToo hashtag is designed to send a clear message: violence against women and girls must end now, and we all have a role to play.
The same message resonates through the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative reminded Guterres in his message. This 500-million-euro programme will empower survivors and advocates to become agents of change in their homes, communities and countries.