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UN makes a promise for action to end violence against women

SKOPJE – 8 March 2013: All women and girls have a right to live in a world free of violence. However, many women around the globe have suffered violence in their lifetime and many more have comforted a sister or friend following an attack.

On International Women’s Day, UN makes a promise for comprehensive action aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls. As part of this effort, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's UNiTE campaign calls on all governments, civil society, women’s organizations, men, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing this global problem.

In his message for the day, UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon welcomes the many governments, groups and individuals who have contributed to this campaign. “I urge everyone to join our effort. Whether you lend your funds to a cause or your voice to an outcry, you can be part of our global push to end this injustice and provide women and girls with the security, safety and freedom they deserve”.

In support of UNiTE goals, UN Women Executive Director, Ms. Michele Bachelet, approached all heads of States and Governments to COMMIT to new actions to prevent and end violence against women and girls, with the goal of making a life free of violence a reality for every woman and girl across the globe. In February, the Government here signed up to COMMIT and thus reaffirmed its commitment to take concrete action to end violence against women and girls. So far, 48 other Governments have also joined the COMMIT initiative.  All commitments by Governments will be announced at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW57) taking place in New York from 4 to 15 March 2013. This global policy making body dedicated to promotion of gender equality and advancement of women, brings together world leaders, civil society representatives and gender advocates who this year are committed to observe the progress in Ending Violence against Women and girls.

As a result of the work of the UN in the country, national and local institutions and civil society organizations are better able to respond to cases of domestic violence. The UN Joint Programme “Strengthening National Capacities to Prevent Domestic Violence”, which was successfully completed in August 2012 with financial support from the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women,  supported Government efforts for ensuring access to better support services for victims and establishing more responsive prevention mechanisms.

But many activists and women’s rights defenders are still rightly outraged because women and girls continue to suffer discrimination, violence and exclusion. “They are routinely blamed and made to feel shame for the violence committed against them, and they too often search in vain for justice”, notes Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director in her message for International Women’s Day.

Globally, Up to 70% of women report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence and up to 50% of sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16. In the face of such unacceptable figures, the international community is strongly committed to improve the situation of women. “We must not allow this attention to fade”, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navi Pillay says in her message for International Women’s Day. “Each country will need to find its own response to ensure accountability for sexual and gender-based crimes”.

Governments and international organizations need to seek “integrated approaches that bring together governments, civil society organizations, law enforcement and judicial systems, to ensure that victims have access to legal services, justice systems and support, and that perpetrators are punished”, notes UNDP Administrator Ms. Helen Clark in her message for the day.

By 2015, the UNiTE campaign aims to adopt and enforce national laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls, adopt and implement multi-sectoral national action plans, increase public awareness and social mobilization, strengthen data collection on the prevalence of violence against women and girls and address sexual violence in conflict in all countries.

UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, also used this opportunity to renew UNFPA’s commitment “to do everything we can to bring an end to gender-based violence. Gender-based violence remains a major health and human rights concern and no human development can be achieved as long as women and girls continue to suffer from violence or live in fear of it”.

As action in this front is needed to bridge the gap between the law and reality, many UN agencies including UNFPA, UN Women, UNDP and WHO urge ratification of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence. This Convention provides an excellent framework for committing governments to act against all forms of gender-based violence. A total of 25 Council of Europe member states, including our country, have already signed the convention and three of them (Albania, Portugal and Turkey) have ratified it.

All around the world, people will mark International Women’s Day to acknowledge progress on gender equality and to challenges and problems women and girls face on daily basis.

In Skopje, from 8-10 March 2013, UN Women is organising the fourth edition of “Women’s Rights Nights”, a series of events traditionally organized in the capital to mark International Women’s Day.  This year, selected documentary films and thematic discussions will be focused on the representation of women in media.  The events will explorethe impact ofmedia  in reinforcing gender roles and stereotypes, the ways in which itcan incite violence against women, but also how  the emergence of non-traditional media can empower women and present them with an opportunity to tell their story.



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