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Message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 25 November 2018

Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic. It 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.

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.

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.

This year, the global United Nations UNiTE campaign to end violence against women and girls is highlighting our 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. This 500-million-euro programme will empower survivors and advocates to become agents of change in their homes, communities and countries. But while this initial investment is significant, it is small given the scale of need. It should be seen as seed funding for a global movement. Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free from fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.

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Remarks on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

[as delivered]

I am very pleased to be with you to discuss this essential topic.

Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic.

It is a moral affront to all women and girls and to us all, 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 in all its forms 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.

The violence can take many forms – from domestic violence to trafficking, from sexual violence in conflict to child marriage, genital mutilation and femicide.

It is an issue that harms the individual but also has far-reaching consequences for families and for society.

Violence experienced as a child is linked to vulnerability and violence later in life.

Other consequences include long-term physical and mental health impacts and costs to individuals and society in services and lost employment days. 

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 world.

Women are made vulnerable to violence through the multiple ways in which we keep them unequal.

When family laws which govern inheritance, custody and divorce discriminate against women, or when societies narrow women’s access to financial resources and credit, they impede a woman’s ability to leave abusive situations.

When institutions fail to believe victims, allow impunity, or neglect to put in place policies of protection, they send a strong signal that condones and enables violence. 

In the past year we have seen growing attention to one manifestation of this violence.

Sexual harassment is experienced by almost all women at some point in their lives.

No space is immune. 

It is rampant across institutions, private and public, including our very own.

This is by no means a new issue, but the increasing public disclosure by women from all regions and all walks of life is bringing the magnitude of the problem to light.

This effort to uncover society’s shame is also showing the galvanizing power of women’s movements to drive the action and awareness needed to eliminate harassment and violence everywhere.

This year, the global United Nations UNiTE campaign to end violence against women and girls is highlighting our 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.

We need to do more to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable.

But, beyond that, it is imperative that we – as societies -- undertake the challenging work of transforming the structures and cultures that allow sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence to happen in the first place.

These include addressing the gender imbalances within our own institutions.

This is why we have adopted a UN system-wide gender parity strategy.

We have achieved parity in the senior management group and we are well on track to reach gender parity in senior leadership by 2021, and across the board by 2028.

The UN has also reaffirmed its zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment and assault committed by staff and UN partners.

We have recruited specialized investigators on sexual harassment, instituted fast-track procedures for addressing complaints and initiated a 24/7 helpline for victims.

I also remain committed to ending all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and UN staff in the field – one of the first initiatives I took when I assumed office.

Nearly 100 Member States that support UN operations on the ground have now signed voluntary compacts with us to tackle the issue, and I call on others to join them, fully assuming their responsibilities, in training, but also in ending impunity.

Further afield, we are continuing to invest in life-changing initiatives for millions of women and girls worldwide through the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

This Fund focuses on preventing violence, implementing laws and policies and improving access to vital services for survivors.

With more than 460 programmes in 139 countries and territories over the past two decades, the UN Trust Fund is making a difference.

In particular, it is investing in women’s civil society organizations, one of the most important and effective investments we can make.

The UN is also working to deliver on a comprehensive, multi-stakeholder, innovative initiative to end all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 500-million-euro EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is an important step forward in this direction.

As the largest-ever single investment in eradicating violence against women and girls worldwide, this initial contribution will address the rights and needs of women and girls across 25 countries and five regions.

It will empower survivors and advocates to share their stories and become agents of change in their homes, communities and countries.

A significant portion of the Spotlight’s initial investment will also go to civil society actors, including those that are reaching people often neglected by traditional aid efforts.

But even though this initial investment is significant, it is small given the scale of the need.

It should be seen as seed funding for a global movement in which we must play a role.

It is that global movement that we celebrate today, as we look forward to the coming 16 days devoted to ending gender-based violence.

Not until the half of our population represented by women and girls can live free of fear, violence and everyday insecurity, can we truly say we live in a fair and equal world.

Thank you very much.

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Ending inequality means ending ‘global pandemic’ of violence against women – UN chief

Until women and girls can live free of fear, violence and insecurity, the world cannot pride itself on being fair and equal, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday, commemorating theInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, marked annually on 25 November.

“At its core, violence against women and girls in all its forms is the manifestation of a profound lack of respect­ ­– a failure by men to recognize the inherent equality and dignity of women,”

Mr. Guterres said at a special event at UN Headquarters observing the Day, which highlights that violence against women is as serious cause of death and incapacity as cancer, among women of reproductive age.

The Day kicks off the 16 Days of Activism under the Secretary-Generals’ UNiTe campaign, which calls on people of all sectors to join in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.

This year’s theme is ‘Orange the World: #HearMeToo,’ and as in previous years, the color orange is used to draw global attention to the issue, while the hashtag is encouraged to amplify the message of survivors and activists and to put them at the centre of the conversation and response.

The theme also aims to broaden the global conversation and highlight the voices and activism of all survivors of violence and advocates around the world – many of whom are often missing from the media headlines and social media discussions.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, the Organization’s gender equality entity, highlighted that UN initiatives shifting the livelihoods of women signal hope for progress.

“A culture that changes from questioning the credibility of the victims, to pursuing the accountability of the perpetrators within due process, is possible,” she said.

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 play   Related Video - UN Women on Violence agains Women in the Caribbean

 

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World population set to grow another 2.2 billion by 2050

The world’s population is set to grow by 2.2 billion between now and 2050, the UN said on Wednesday, and more than half of that growth - 1.3 billion - is likely to be in sub-Saharan Africa, where women’s rights are hampered by limited access to healthcare and education, along with “entrenched gender discrimination”.

Monica Ferro, Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Geneva, said the trend globally is towards smaller families, indicating that more people are making choices about exactly how many children they want, or can afford to raise.

Despite the gradual transition to lower fertility rates, which began in Europe in the late 19th century, no country can claim that all their citizens enjoy reproductive rights at all times, Ms Ferro told journalists at a press briefing. “No matter if it is a high fertility-rate country or low fertility-rate country, in both of them, you will find individuals and couples who say they don’t have the number of children they want. They either have too many or too few.”

In 43 countries, women have more than 4 children

According to UNFPA’s State of World Population 2018, there are 43 countries where women have more than four or more children, and 38 of these are in Africa.

In all but five East African countries, fewer than half of all women surveyed, said they would prefer not to have any more children.

If UNFPA’s predictions are correct, Africa’s share of the world population will grow from 17 per cent in 2017, to 26 per cent in 2050.

Staying with the African continent, fertility rates are “significantly lower” in cities than in rural areas, the report indicates. In Ethiopia, for example, women have around 2.1 children in cities, whereas they have around five in the rest of the country.

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Message on International Day of Rural Women

The empowerment of rural women and girls is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful future for all on a healthy planet. It is needed for achieving gender equality, ensuring decent work for all, eradicating poverty and hunger and taking climate action. Yet, rural women and girls remain disproportionately affected by poverty, inequality, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

On this International Day of Rural Women, I call on countries to take action to ensure that rural women and girls fully enjoy their human rights. Those include the right to land and security of land tenure; to adequate food and nutrition; to a life free of all forms of violence, discrimination and harmful practices; to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health; and to quality, affordable and accessible education throughout their lives.

Achieving this requires investment, legal and policy reforms and the inclusion of rural women in the decisions that affect their lives. By investing in the well-being, livelihoods and resilience of rural women and girls, we make progress for all.

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Women journalists in Afghanistan, defiant in the face of violence

The cold-blooded murder took place just days before World Press Freedom Day marked annually on May 3rd.

Outside the Afghan capital, the dangers of reporting the news, particularly as a woman, have never been so apparent.

Sediqa Sherzai is the news director of Radio-TV Roshani, a media organization In Kunduz in the north of Afghanistan. Her female reporters are under constant threat not only from insurgents but also from men who do not want women to work in the media.

“When insurgents seized Kunduz in 2015, they came immediately for our station because they didn’t like our content focused on women’s rights,” she said. “Even though most of our reporters fled in advance of their arrival. They looted our equipment and destroyed what they could not take.”

Elections

Despite the challenges of working as a woman in the media in a conservative and conflict-affected country, Sediqa Sherzai is committed to ensuring that the voices of Afghan women area heard ahead of the country’s elections slated for October this year.

In the volatile province of Kunduz where some territory is beyond government control, women say they fear to speak to the media and talk about human rights, much less advocate openly for democracy and change. Even Sediqa Sherzai and her staff of women shy away from photographs, cautiously protecting their identities.

Elections are considered essential to solidify fragile the social and human rights advances made during the last 17 years. The struggle for full women’s suffrage in Afghanistan, reminiscent of similar fights in centuries past in other nations, has gained broader international support in the last two decades.

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UN Chief Op Ed - "We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights"

We are at a pivotal moment for women’s rights. The historical and structural inequalities that have allowed oppression and discrimination to flourish are being exposed like never before. From Latin America to Europe to Asia, on social media, on film sets, on the factory floor and in the streets, women are calling for lasting change and zero tolerance for sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination of all kinds.

Achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls is the unfinished business of our time, and the greatest human rights challenge in our world.

The activism and advocacy of generations of women has borne fruit. There are more girls in school than ever before; more women are doing paid work and in senior roles in the private sector, academia, politics and in international organizations, including the United Nations. Gender equality is enshrined in countless laws, and harmful practices like female genital mutilation and child marriage have been outlawed in many countries.  

But serious obstacles remain if we are to address the historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation.

More than a billion women around the world lack legal protection against domestic sexual violence. The global gender pay gap is 23 per cent, rising to 40 per cent in rural areas, and the unpaid work done by many women goes unrecognized. Women’s representation in national parliaments stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and in boardrooms it is even lower. Without concerted action, millions more girls will be subjected to genital mutilation over the next decade.

Where laws exist, they are often ignored, and women who pursue legal redress are doubted, denigrated and dismissed. We now know that sexual harassment and abuse have been thriving in workplaces, public spaces and private homes, in countries that pride themselves on their record of gender equality.

The United Nations should set an example for the world.

I recognize that this has not always been the case. Since the start of my tenure last year, I have set change in motion at UN headquarters, in our peacekeeping missions and in all our offices worldwide.

We have now reached gender parity for the first time in my senior management team, and I am determined to achieve this throughout the organization. I am totally committed to zero tolerance of sexual harassment and have set out plans to improve reporting and accountability. We are working closely with countries around the world to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse by staff in peacekeeping missions, and to support victims.

We at the United Nations stand with women around the world as they fight to overcome the injustices they face – whether they are rural women dealing with wage discrimination, urban women organizing for change, women refugees at risk of exploitation and abuse, or women who experience intersecting forms of discrimination: widows, indigenous women, women with disabilities and women who do not conform to gender norms.

Women’s empowerment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals means progress for all women, everywhere. The Spotlight initiative launched jointly with the European Union will focus resources on eliminating violence against women and girls, a prerequisite for equality and empowerment. 

Let me be clear: this is not a favour to women. Gender equality is a human rights issue, but it is also in all our interests: men and boys, women and girls. Gender inequality and discrimination against women harms us all.

There is ample evidence that investing in women is the most effective way to lift communities, companies, and even countries. Women’s participation makes peace agreements stronger, societies more resilient and economies more vigorous. Where women face discrimination, we often find practices and beliefs that are detrimental to all. Paternity leave, laws against domestic violence and equal pay legislation benefit everyone.

At this crucial moment for women’s rights, it is time for men to stand with women, listen to them and learn from them. Transparency and accountability are essential if women are to reach their full potential and lift all of us, in our communities, societies and economies.

I am proud to be part of this movement, and I hope it continues to resonate within the United Nations and around the world.

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International Day of the Girl Child 2016

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

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MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF THE GIRL

 

11 October 2016

 

The theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl is based on the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. The slogan is: Girls’ Progress equals Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls.

The wellbeing, human rights and empowerment of the world’s 1.1 billion girls are central to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. When we agreed on that agenda, we promised girls quality education and health services.

We committed to ending discrimination and violence against girls, and harmful practices like child marriage. We pledged to leave no one behind.

Too often, in villages, shanty towns and refugee camps around the world, girls are the ones left behind: without nutritious food, healthcare or quality education, and at risk of sexual violence. 

Investing in girls is both the right thing to do, and the smart thing to do. It has a powerful ripple effect across all areas of development, and reaches forward to future generations.

But what cannot be measured cannot be managed. If we do not gather the data we need, we will never know if we are delivering on our promises.

We need to make sure that our initiatives are reaching all girls: girls in extreme poverty; girls in isolated rural areas; girls living with disabilities; girls in indigenous communities; girls who are refugees or displaced within their own countries.

Timely, high-quality data is vital so that we know where we are meeting our promises, and where we are falling behind.

Let us all work hard to make sure we count all girls, because all girls count.

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Telephone: 1(868) 623 8438 or 623 4813

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Feature photos

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  • ccacademy
  • 20180920 161147
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  • UNFPA staff Ella presents a gift to a visitor at the UN booth on International Women's Day 2018
  • Climate Change Academy students and organisers
  • parent an students who attended in 2nd Climate Change workshop, with UNIC Director, Costa Rican Abassador, ASPnet Coordinator and guest presenter
  • MUN 2019 youth leaders and Lara Quantrall Thomas from Rotary