Governments must accelerate efforts to eradicate violence against women

Alarming statistics illustrate the enormous obstacles that remain in the way of eliminating epidemic levels of violence against women and girls. The United Nations indicates that as many as 7 in 10 women in the world report having experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetimes.

In response to these numbers – and to commemorate International Women’s Day on March 8 – ACT Alliance calls on UN member states to fulfil their obligations to eradicate violence against women and girls.

“The international community has a responsibility to implement a global framework to prevent and punish violence against women and girls. States have a legal and moral obligation to stop this most abhorrent form of violence,” says ACT Alliance’s General Secretary, John Nduna.

Violence against women is a universal phenomenon taking many forms: partner violence; early and forced marriage; forced pregnancy; “honour” crimes; female genital mutilation; femicide; sexual harassment; trafficking; and conflict-related violence.

Wars and conflict in particular often lead to an increase in sexual- and gender-based violence.

“In situations of conflict or post-conflict, women’s participation in conflict resolution and peace building is critical to creating a safer environment for them to live in,” says Nduna.

Addressing gender-based violence requires the implementation and enforcement of comprehensive legislative and policy measures at global and national levels; they must entail protection, prosecution and punishment of offenders, as well as support for survivors, prevention and research. Effective legal frameworks must prohibit and criminalise violence against women and girls, as well as prevent violence and safeguard survivors.

ACT Alliance calls on the UN Commission on the Status of Women, meeting this week and next in New York, to work towards the universal ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Ultimately, Nduna argues, violence against women and girls has not only devastating effects on its victims, but on society at large.

“The future success of sustainable international peace and development depends on stopping the scourge of gender-based violence,” he concludes.