“There is one universal truth, applicable to all countries, cultures and communities: violence against women is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.” – Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General
Violence against women has been described as a ‘global epidemic’, and is perhaps the most widespread and socially tolerated form of human rights violations. It affects women of all ages, race, culture and socio-economic situations.
World Bank data shows that women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria.
The impacts of violence ranges from immediate to long-term multiple physical, sexual and mental consequences for women and girls, including death. Violence prevents women from fully participating in society and has negative consequences for women as well as their families, the community and the country at large.
Play your part to end violence against women and girls
We all have a responsibility to end violence against women and girls. Here are few simple and important things that we can all do to promote safety of women and girls.
- Tell people that violence against women and girls is never OK.
- If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused, listen to and support her. Tell her there are people who want to help. In Australia, phone the 24/7 hotline 1800RESPECT or visit https://www.1800respect.org.au/
- Believe women when they tell you they’ve been raped or abused. Don’t ask about their behaviour and what they were wearing. Listen to what they say without judging them. Women never ask for nor deserve to be raped or abused.
- Learn about violence against women and girls and what causes it. Your education is a tool to end it.
- Remember that silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out about violence against women (or any other injustice) we are supporting it
- Encourage and support those people in your community working to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
- Talk to family and community members about how violence and fear of violence affect the daily lives of women and girls. Talk about how you can support each other to help end violence.
- Make your home violence-free. Children who have witnessed or suffered from gender-based violence are more likely to become victims and abusers later in life.
- Raise your sons and daughters to be equal and teach them that there is nothing that boys can do that girls cannot.
- Volunteer to work with violence against women and girls prevention programs in your community.
- Share decision-making with women in your life. Discuss things with your partner and respect your partner’s opinions.
- If you are angry, count to 10 before reacting to something you hear or see.
- If a brother, friend, colleague, classmate or teammate is disrespectful to or is abusing a woman or a girl, do not look the other way — instead, find a way to talk about it with them.
- Words are very powerful, especially when spoken by people with power over others. Don’t use disrespectful words.
UN Women’s Approach
Gender inequality and an entrenched acceptance of men’s power over women foster an environment in which violence against women is commonplace, accepted and normalised.
UN Women recognises the link between violence against women and structured power inequalities and deploys the following strategies to eliminate violence against women:
- Prevention: UN Women supports prevention initiatives from the local to the international level.
- Support for women’s organisations: UN Women provides resources and training to innovative, grassroots responses to violence, often in societies where the problem is ignored or marginalised.
- Protective laws and national actions: UN Women works with partners to establish legal frameworks and action plans to eliminate violence against women.
- Measuring the problem: UN Women has been at the forefront of supporting the collection of data and research on violence against women to understand the scope of the problem and devise the means to end it.