Nº 2 2013 > International Women’s Day 2013

A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women

Michelle Bachelet, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

Michelle Bachelet, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women
Michelle Bachelet, former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

Celebrating International Women’s Day at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York on 8 March 2013, Michelle Bachelet, the then UN Women Executive Director made a rallying call to the international community to move forward on gender equality and women’s rights.

At the event “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”, organized under the auspices of the UNiTE Campaign, and attended by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki‑moon, as well as representatives of Member States, civil society and the private sector, Ms Bachelet highlighted the progress made in the past century but called for more robust action and commitments to protect the right of women and girls to live in dignity, free from violence and discrimination.

Recognizing the critical gains made over the past 20 years in ensuring that women enjoy the same human rights as men, and get equal treatment, Ms Bachelet said “We have moved forward with the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the 1994 Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the ICPD+5 Key Actions for further implementation. We have moved forward with the Platform for Action of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, the Security Council’s landmark Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, its subsequent resolutions, and all international human rights conventions and other treaties. My message today is: we cannot move backwards, we must keep moving forward. It is what we owe to millions of women fighting for their rights around the world.”

Ms Bachelet considers that the widespread public outrage — shown by men and women, girls and boys — and the calls for action to end violence against women and girls constitute a tipping point. “Never before have we had the instant and global outreach that new technologies afford to record in mere seconds, and communicate in real time, the atrocities and horrors of violence committed against women and girls”, she said.

Ms Bachelet went on to add that “Violence against women is pervasive and knows no borders. It does not discriminate according to nationality, ethnicity, social class, culture or religion.” That is why, as she put it, “women, men and young people have raised their voices in every region to say one thing: enough is enough”.

In Ms Bachelet’s opinion, everyone has the responsibility to act with courage, conviction and commitment to eliminate violence against women. But she feels that a special duty is incumbent on the international community and Member States of the UN to show that they not only listen, but also support what people now demand.

Ms Bachelet said she was pleased to announce that “just as public awareness and outrage are rising, so too is the commitment by governments to take action to end this violence”. In November 2012, UN Women invited governments to announce new national action, and this led to the birth of the “COMMIT” initiative. In this context, she said “I am pleased to announce that 50 governments and the European Commission have committed to taking concrete action to end violence against women and girls… From Argentina to Australia, Brazil to Colombia and Denmark, Germany to Jamaica, Liberia to Thailand, from Slovakia to the Republic of Korea, countries have committed to take action. We have just heard good news from the United States of America, where the Violence against Women Act was signed by President Obama. From here to all regions of the world, governments have pledged actions to end violence against women, and guarantee access to critical services and justice. Together we must keep the promise, so that women and girls can, one day, in this century, live free of fear and violence.” Today, 54 governments and the European Union have joined the initiative.

Referring to the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, taking place at the UN headquarters in New York from 4 to 15 March 2013, Ms Bachelet said “We have the historic opportunity to make strong commitments, to move forward to prevent and end these widespread human rights violations. The 57th Commission on the Status of Women must uphold, and should advance, the full human rights of women. This is what women and girls all over the world expect from us! We truly have to go the extra mile.”

On 15 March, Member States adopted the historic Agreed Conclusions at the Session, providing a framework to tackle the pandemic of violence against women and girls (http://www.unwomen.org/2013/03/un-women-urges-implementation-of-historic-global-agreement-to-end-violence-against-women-and-girls/) Source: — Courtesy UN Women.


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