UN Secretary-General's message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25 November)

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.

In April this year, I urged the international community to work to end the shadow pandemic of gender-based violence once and for all.  I reiterate and relaunch that appeal today.

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 and intersecting forms of discrimination.  We must also prioritize women’s leadership in finding solutions and engage men in the struggle.  

Action must involve predictable and flexible funding for women’s rights organizations, who 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, including through addressing social norms and power imbalances, and police and judicial systems need to increase accountability for perpetrators and end impunity.

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

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