International elimination of violence against women day

25 November, 2011

Activists and the UN have used November 25 to oppose violence against women since 1981. The scale and nature of rape, domestic and other violence is often hidden. The date also commemorates the brutal deaths in 1960 of the Dominican Mirabel sisters.

Women’s activists mark 25 November as a day to fight violence against women. In 1981 the UN invited governments, international organisations and NGOs to organise activities designated to raise public awareness of the problem on this day as an international observance.

Women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence;  the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden. This date came from the brutal assassination in 1960 of threeMirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, by the orders of Rafael Trujillo.

Next year, we will be holding a meeting to discuss UN Security Council Resolution 1325, Women Peace and Security. This will follow up on our 2006 meeting opened by President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. At the time, President Johnson Sirleaf spoke about the constraints and challenges of implementation facing the international community. We published a report on this discussion shortly after the meeting. For more details on our 2012 meeting please contact Julia Purcell – julia.purcell@wiltonpark.org.uk

 

WP816 - Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Image: President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, speaking at the conference

 

We have regularly held meetings to facilitate the dialogue process to put an end to violence against women. On the 60th anniversary year of international peacekeeping (2008) and coinciding with the commemorative day of international peacekeepers (May 29), our meeting on women targeted or affected by armed conflict discussed what more could be done by international peacekeepers to protect women from sexual violence and other abuse in armed conflict, and its aftermath.

Senior military personnel, including former commanders of international peace support operations, UN officials, policy makers and other experts met to discuss how to improve political and tactical responses to improve protection of women in war.  The meeting examined such situations as in Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo where sexual and other abuse of women and girls has been widespread.

In a message to the conference, the UN Secretary-General drew attention to the intentional use of sexual violence on a large scale against female civilians. He called for

 

“…national authorities to take the lead in developing and carrying out a comprehensive strategy to address the causes, kinds and consequences of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict. … For the strategy to succeed, it must include action to raise awareness about the specific risks faced by women in conflict. And it must involve effective security measures, including training national military and police forces so that they can prevent and respond to sexual violence. Independent monitoring of the human rights situation is critical to ensuring an objective assessment. And all alleged perpetrators must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

Assistant Secretary-General, Edmond Mulet identified four key areas at the concluding stages; guidance, resources, training, and political leadership.

The month following the conference, the UN Security Council held two debates on sexual violence against women, for which the Wilton Park conference had built momentum. The Security Council also adopted a resolution on ‘Women and peace and security’, S/RES/1820 (2008).

The conference was sponsored by the UK and Canadian governments, the United Nations Women’s Fund for Development (UNIFEM) and the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) on behalf of UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict

 

UNIFEM Ambassador Nicole Kidman speaks on campaign to raise awareness of abuse against women across the World.

 

Further information

Conference on Women targeted or affected by armed conflict : what role for military peacekeepers?

Conference on Peace and security: implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1325

Stay up to date

Sign up to our newsletter