NEW YORK, 25 Nov. (By Sima Bahous, Executive Director of UN Women) –
Five years ago, the global #MeToo movement brought renewed urgency and increased visibility to the extent of violence against women and girls. Millions of survivors came forward to share their experience. They forced the world to acknowledge a reality that shames us all. Her courage and voice gave rise to powerful collective activism and a sea change in consciousness.
This wake-up call, along with other invaluable initiatives around the world, continues to resonate. Grassroots activists, defenders of women’s Human Rights and lawyers for survivors remind us of this every day, everywhere. They reveal the extent of that violence, collect and shape the statistics, document the attacks and bring to light the violence that happens from the shadows. Your job remains as crucial as it ever was. They show us the way to put an end to this violation of women’s rights.
The work of women’s rights movements and activists is the basis for accountability and to ensure that promises made on various occasions come true. They are mobilizing and they are powerful. Today they are the protagonists of our tribute.
The evidence is clear. We urgently need to invest in building strong and autonomous women’s organizations to achieve effective solutions.
We learned this lesson recently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries with powerful women’s movements, stronger democracies, and larger numbers of women in parliament were the most effective in responding to rising cases of gender-based violence, the hidden COVID pandemic.
In this area, as in others, we see time and again that when women are in leadership positions, everyone wins. We all benefit from a more inclusive and effective response to the challenges we face. We all benefit from more resilient economies and societies.
Along with these efforts, men must step up. They must play their part in the change. They can start where they live. The sad reality is that for some women and girls, home can be a place where their lives are in danger rather than a place where they feel safe.
According to the latest global estimates on femicides, the outlook is alarming, and was aggravated by the confinement measures imposed as a result of COVID-19. Our new report, published with UNODC, reveals that on average, around the world, more than five women or girls are killed every hour by someone in their own family.
These deaths can be prevented. This violence against women does not have to happen. Solutions are tested and tested and include early intervention, trained and supportive police and judicial services, and access to survivor-centred support and protection.
YOU HAVE TO ACT
I make three calls to action. I think these are our priorities and basic needs. They are the foundation from which we can move forward and realize our stated commitments to end violence against women and girls.
First, I urge governments and partners around the world to increase funding and long-term support for women’s organizations, to commit to the Generation Equality Coalition for Action on Gender-Based Violence and to make donations to civil society organizations through the UN Trust Fund and support for the Spotlight Initiative.
The resources are significant, and the level of financial support for this cause does not match the magnitude of the problem or the statements of concern made by those in leadership roles.
Second, I ask that we all, in our own way, oppose going backwards on women’s rights, amplify the voices of women’s feminist movements, and mobilize more actors. We can all be advocates and advocates, and our combined voices can drive the change we seek.
In doing so, we must also ensure the promotion of leadership and the full and equal participation of women and girls at all levels of political, policy-making and decision-making spaces. Accelerated progress toward ending violence against women and girls is just one of the benefits.
Thirdly, I ask to strengthen the protection mechanisms for women human rights defenders and women’s rights activists. No one, anywhere, should experience violence or harassment for standing up for what is right and asking for what is necessary.
We cannot allow our determination to “keep going” to waver; in favor of gender equality. Our goal of a world where violence against women and girls is not only condemned but also eradicated is possible. If we move forward together and together, we can make it.