International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Did you know?

  • Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.
  • 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence.
  • Women and girls are disproportionately subjected to violence, including femicide, sexual violence, intimate partner violence, trafficking, and harmful practices.

Women's rights activists have observed November 25 as a day against gender-based violence since 1981. This date was selected to honor the Mirabal sisters, three political activists from the Dominican Republic who were brutally murdered in 1960 by order of the country’s ruler, Rafael Trujillo.

Violence against women and girls is a global human rights challenge.  The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed this issue as a global emergency requiring urgent action at all levels, in all spaces and by all people.  The social and economic fallout from the pandemic is disproportionately pushing women and girls into poverty, and the risk of violence against them is rising.

The global community needs to hear the voices and experiences of women and girls and take into account their needs, especially survivors and those who face multiple forms of discrimination.  We must also prioritize women’s leadership in finding solutions and while engaging men in the struggle.

Action must involve predictable and flexible funding for women’s rights organizations, which so often act as first responders during crises.  It is critical that services for survivors of violence remain open, with adequate resources and measures in place to support health, social and justice responses.

These measures should not only focus on intervening once violence against women has occurred.  They should work to prevent violence occurring in the first place, by addressing social norms and power imbalances. Police and judicial systems need to increase accountability for perpetrators and end impunity.

At least 144 countries have passed laws on domestic violence, and 154 have laws on sexual harassment. However, this does not mean they are always compliant with international standards and recommendations or implemented.

Although women and girls account for a far smaller share of total homicides than men, they bear by far the greatest burden of intimate partner/family‐related homicide. Help is needed in all parts of society.

Despite the adoption of the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women(CEDAW) by the UN General Assembly in 1979, violence against women and girls remains a pervasive problem worldwide. To that end, the General Assembly issued resolution 48/104, laying the foundation for the road towards a world free of gender-based violence.

Another bold step in the right direction was embodied by an initiative launched in 2008 and known as the UNiTE to End Violence against Women. It aims to raise public awareness of the issue as well as increase both policymaking and resources dedicated to ending violence against women and girls worldwide.

Yet, there is still a long way to go at the global scale. To date, only two out of three countries have outlawed domestic violence, while 37 countries worldwide still exempt rape perpetrators from prosecution if they are married to or eventually marry the victim, 49 countries currently have no laws protecting women from domestic violence.

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) have embarked on a new, global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. - The Spotlight Initiative.

The Initiative is so named as it brings focused attention to this issue, moving it into the spotlight and placing it at the center of efforts to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

An initial investment in the order of  500 million Euros was made, with the EU as the main contributor. Other donors and partners were invited to join the Initiative to broaden its reach and scope. The modality for the delivery is a UN multi- stakeholder trust fund, administered by the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office. It includes the support of core agencies UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women, and overseen by the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General.

On this international day, let us redouble our efforts to eradicate gender-based violence forever.