Global Agreement to Tackle Violence Against Women
15 December 2015 at 10:59 am
While the world was celebrating a global pledge to keep temperature rises below two degrees Celsius on the weekend, an almost equally significant global commitment went largely unnoticed.
At an international conference to end violence against women held in Istanbul, representatives from more than 40 countries made action-oriented pledges to create a safer world for women.
Organised by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the 16 day conference culminated in world leaders vowing to take a zero tolerance approach and immediate action to end the global epidemic of violence against women.
They also agreed to greater investment in gender equality, to share data on violence against women and to strengthen existing laws to protect women.
Australia, which was officially represented at the conference, was specifically thanked for its efforts to tackle gender-based violence.
According to data provided by UN Women, one in three women around the world have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner.
Executive Director of UNFPA, the co-organizer for the meeting, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, said violence against women was a global issue.
“Today there is no country in the world, not one, where women and girls live free from violence,” Osotimehin said.
“Protecting women’s rights to live in dignity, free from violence, requires our deliberate, urgent and sustained action.
“Turkey will observe the principle of zero tolerance for violence against women. We have new laws, and will be saying no to gender-based violence.”
The Executive Directors of UN Women and UNFPA also launched the Essential Services Package, a toolkit of guidelines, services and best practices to support women and girls subject to violence.
Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said greater investment in gender equality was needed to end the global epidemic of violence against women.
“Change is not cheap. We need money to invest in gender equality and provide access to justice,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.
“Violence against women and girls is a global epidemic. We can prevent it. But our investment must be proportional to the size of the problem.”
Mlambo-Ngcuka called on governments and the private sector to do more in funding essential gender-based violence prevention and protection services.
“These essential services provide not the ceiling but the floor, in our most basic response to women who suffer violence,” she said.
“We must hold leaders accountable. These essential services are often under-funded – and that must change.”
The Istanbul conference was held 20 years after the landmark Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which was adopted by 189 countries in 1995 and set the most progressive agenda for advancing women’s rights.
Australia, along with Spain, was recognised at the conference as the main donors for the UN Joint Programme on Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence.