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UN Women Executive Director launches new initiative to end violence against women

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 20 2012 (IPS) - Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, is calling for bold action and decisive leadership to galvanize efforts to end the pandemic of violence against women and girls.

Launching COMMIT, a new initiative asking governments to make national commitments which will be showcased globally, Bachelet underlined that ending violence against women is possible.

Today 125 countries have laws that penalize domestic violence, a huge step forward from just a decade ago. But she said this is not enough, she added.

Up to seven in ten women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime and 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime.

“We all must do better to protect women and prevent this pervasive human rights violation. Governments and leaders must lead by example. Now is the time for governments to translate international promises into concrete national action,”  Bachelet said in a message released Tuesday.

“We hope to see new and improved laws and national action plans that provide for safe houses, free hotline services and free health and legal aid to survivors. We count on education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect, and inspire young people to take leadership on ending violence against women and girls. We need increasing numbers of women in politics, law enforcement, and peacekeeping forces. We need equal economic opportunities and decent jobs for women,” she added.

The focus of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, due to meet next March, will be to tackle violence against women and girls. And expectations are high for Governments to agree on frameworks that will truly address ending violence against women and girls.

Coinciding with the International Day, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, the only multilateral grant-making mechanism exclusively dedicated to ending all forms of violence against women and girls, is announcing its Call for Proposals for its 17th grant-making cycle. Special focus will be on violence against adolescents and young girls, and proposals that foster their leadership and activism as champions of change.

In her message to mark the International Day to End Violence Against Women, Bachelet also said that 187 countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Knowledge on the root causes of violence has increased, and women, men and young people continue to mobilize in huge numbers against violence. There are countless organizations whose members work tirelessly to support survivors and, in many countries, policy-makers have taken decisive action. But it is not enough, she added.

“ We all must do better to protect women and prevent this pervasive human rights violation. Governments and leaders must lead by example. Now is the time for governments to translate international promises into concrete national action.

We hope to see new and improved laws and national action plans that provide for safe houses, free hotline services and free health and legal aid to survivors. We count on education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect, and inspire young people to take leadership on ending violence against women and girls. We need increasing numbers of women in politics, law enforcement, and peacekeeping forces. We need equal economic opportunities and decent jobs for women”.

“Today violence against women is increasingly recognized for what it is: a threat to democracy, a barrier to lasting peace, a burden on national economies, and an appalling human rights violation. As more and more people believe that violence against women is neither acceptable nor inevitable, as more and more perpetrators are punished, the change to end violence against women grows deeper and stronger.

“This is not just a women’s issue, this is a responsibility for all of us. This violence is an outrage and it must be stopped. Time has run out for complacency or excuses. Let us show the will, the determination and let us mobilize greater resources to end what is a scourge of humanity, violence against women.

Yes, it is possible.”

 
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