International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

25 November, 2014

violence against women

In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we look back on our recent contributions to the promotion of the human rights of women and girls, and considers what more can be done to help end gender-based violence.

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and it offers an opportunity to reflect on the important work still to be done to protect the basic human rights of women and girls.

An urgent issue

Violence against women and girls remains one of the most widespread human rights violations, with instances occurring in every country in the world. According to UN Women, one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.

The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women defines violence as including any act “that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women and girls”. This includes threats and coercion, as well as arbitrary deprivation of liberty. The effects of this violence have wider implications to the social and economic freedoms available to women and girls.

International action

It has been 35 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by the UN General Assembly, and 20 years since the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Now is a time of reflection on the progress made to date and an opportunity to work together to identify the best ways forward.

In March 2015 the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women will meet at the UN to review the progress made on the implementation of these principles. This month UN Women convened an expert group meeting on ‘Envisioning women’s rights in the post-2015 context’.

The United Nations has launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign to “raise public awareness and increase political will and resources for preventing and ending all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world”.

The UK government is also developing initiatives to promote the rights of women and girls, including the Girl’s Summit this July, co-hosted with UNICEF, which aimed to raise support for ending female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) within a generation. UN Women estimate that 133 million women and girls have currently undergone female genital mutilation.

Wilton Park promoting the rights of women and girls

We have highlighted the need to improve the situation for women in a number of areas with events aimed at tackling human trafficking , increasing the opportunities to gain employment, encourage a greater recognition of the role that women can play in peacebuilding, as well as helping the British government deliver its campaign to prevent sexual violence in conflict. We will continue to work with partners to pursue the international effort to protect and promote the human rights of women and girls.

Related conferences

Combating human trafficking: business and human rights

Women in the private sector in the Middle East and North Africa

Women in peacebuilding

Preventing sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations

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