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Expand global efforts to secure women and girls

By Sima Bahous | November 27th 2021

Women off-loading sand in Sanda village, Siaya County. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is set aside to celebrate those working hard to protect women and girls and defend their rights.

Here at the UN, and across the world, we welcome new partners -  governments, organisations, 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.

Violence against women is a global crisis. In all of our own neighbourhoods, there are women and girls living in danger. Around the world, conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations are exacerbating violence against women.

More than 70 per cent of women have experienced gender-based violence in some crisis settings. And in countries, rich and poor, gender prejudice has fuelled acts of violence toward women. 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.

But there is hope. In recent years, much has been achieved to prevent and reduce violence against women.

The challenge now is to expand global efforts and make a difference in more lives. We must ensure essential services are available and accessible to women. We need to support environments, online and off, in which women participate safely in decision-making.

New opportunities are opening. Last summer, as part of a USD 40 billion commitment to the women and girls of the world, the Generation Equality Forum launched the Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence. The coalition brings together a wide array of women groups and others: youth, civil society, faith-based institutions, philanthropy, private sector, international organisations and UN Member States.

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. For 2021, the theme is, “Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now!”.  “Orange” symbolises a brighter future, free of violence. I welcome and urge you to participate. 

-The writer is Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women

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