UN Leaders Call for Funding to End Violence Against Women and Girls
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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UN leaders underscored the importance of ending violence against women and girls to achieve the SDGs on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Many leaders highlighted the impacts of violence against women and children on families, communities and economies, urging increased funding to prevent and end such violence.

The first UN independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity outlined five steps to end discrimination and violence against the global LGBT community.

30 November 2016: UN leaders underscored the importance of ending violence against women and girls to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November 2016. The Day also marked the start of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, which runs from 25 November to 10 December 2016, to raise awareness about the funding needed to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls.

UN leaders stressed the importance of ending violence against women to achieve SDG 5 (gender equality) as well as related SDGs and targets on poverty, health, education, inequality, sustainable cities and peace and justice, among others. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described violence against women and girls as a human rights violation, a public health pandemic and a “serious obstacle to sustainable development.” He also noted that violence against women results in large costs to families, communities and economies, as it can prevent women from working, jeopardizing their employment, autonomy and their ability to leave abusive relationships, while compromising business productivity and taking resources from health-care agencies, social services and justice systems.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka highlighted the devastating impact of violence against women and girls on individuals and society, describing how “women and girls who experience violence lose their dignity…live in fear and pain and in the worst cases…pay with their lives.” Mlambo-Ngcuka said the benefits of ending such violence “would far outweigh the investment necessary,” sharing examples from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Timor-Leste and Uganda of how small-scale, timely and well-targeted investments resulted in significant benefits for women and their communities.

Ban urged governments to “dramatically increase” national spending in relevant areas, and the private sector and others to contribute to UN Women and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

With UN Women stressing that funding to end such violence is “woefully insufficient,” Ban urged governments to “dramatically increase” national spending in relevant areas, and the private sector and others to contribute to UN Women and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Miwa Kato, UN Women, said the SDG targets demand innovative solutions and new partnerships to mobilize resources, including to address violence against women and gender inequality.

Participants at the Asia-Pacific Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women also supported increased investments to address violence against women, and underscored the importance of gender-responsive budgeting to this end. UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar said the costs and effects of violence go beyond survivors and their children, to impact national budgets, health care and overall socioeconomic development. According to ESCAP, the costs of violence range from one to six percent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The UN Regional Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment, UN Women and ESCAP organized the event, which took place in Bangkok, Thailand.

UN Environment (UNEP) emphasized the relationship among gender, violence and the environment, describing how depleting ecosystems force women and girls to walk further to unfamiliar and unsafe places in search of water, fuel wood and other resources, placing them at risk of violence. Executive Director Erik Solheim highlighted UN Environment’s work to reduce women’s risk of exposure when collecting firewood, including through: a joint project with UN Women on ‘Women’s Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Energy;’ a project on gender, natural resources and peacebuilding with UN Women, UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office; and an analysis on the topic, ‘Women and Natural Resources.’

Other events to mark the day included a public motorbike rally in Pakistan and marches in Serbia, Timor-Leste and Uganda. The Ciné-ONU in Brussels, Belgium, hosted a screening of ‘The Uncondemned,’ which illustrates rape as a war crime through a story of sexual violence and genocide in Rwanda. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) held a series of events to raise awareness on the causes and consequences of gender-based violence and promote action to end all forms of violence against women. The Humanitarian Women’s Network (HWN) released a study that finds that 55% of women working in the aid and humanitarian sector have experienced sexual advances, remarks or violence and, among those women, 60% did not disclose what happened to them. The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) showcased Bahrain’s role in helping businesswomen in the Arab world to overcome cultural and investment barriers through Bahrain’s Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion (EDIP) programme.

Also on gender-based violence, the first UN independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Vitit Muntarbhorn, outlined five steps to end discrimination and violence against the global lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, at the World Conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, in Bangkok, on 30 November 2016. These steps are: eliminating criminal laws that affect LGBT people; not seeing the community as suffering from a disorder; giving all people the right to reflect their gender identity on official documents; working with cultures and religions to ensure inclusive practices; and ensuring children grow up with the ability to empathize with people of different gender identity or sexual orientation. Muntarbhorn elaborated that his mandate will contribute to the commitment to leave no one behind in the 2030 Agenda.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) designated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to raise public awareness on the issue and to commemorate the assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic. [UN Press Release] [UN Women Webpage on the Day] [ESCAP Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [UN Secretary-General Message] [UN Women Executive Director Statement] [UNIDO Press Release] [UNRIC Press Release on Ciné-ONU] [UNRIC Press Release on HWN Findings] [UN Press Release on LGBT Rights Expert]

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