As we observe the 2010 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let us acknowledge the widespread and growing efforts to address this important issue. No longer are women’s organizations alone. From Latin America to the United States, from Asia to Africa, men and boys, young and old, musicians, celebrities and sports personalities, the media, public and private organizations, and ordinary citizens are doing more to protect women and girls and promote their empowerment and rights.
The social mobilization platform “Say NO-UNiTE” has recorded almost 1 million activities implemented by civil society and individuals worldwide. In August this year at the fifth World Youth Conference in Mexico, young activists from around the world were clear in their message: “It’s time to end violence against women and girls!” Member States, too, are engaged. As of November 2010, my database on the extent, nature and consequences of violence against women, which also logs policies and programmes for combating the pandemic, has registered more than 100 reports from governments.
This year’s observance highlights the role the business community can play – from developing projects to providing direct financial support to organizations working to end violence and embracing the principles of corporate social responsibility. The “Women’s Empowerment Principles”, an initiative of the UN Global Compact and UNIFEM, recognize the costs to business of violence against women and are now supported by more 120 leading companies. A growing number of media outlets are bringing light to bear on so-called “honour-killings”, trafficking of girls and sexual violence in conflict, and are raising awareness about the benefits to society of empowering women. Yet much more needs to be done. In homes, schools and the office, in refugee camps and conflict situations, the corporate sector can help us to prevent the many forms of violence that women and girls continue to face.
My UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, and the Network of Men Leaders I launched last year, have generated welcome momentum and engagement. The word is spreading: violence against women and girls has no place in any society, and impunity for perpetrators must no longer be tolerated. On this International Day, I urge all – Governments, civil society, the corporate sector, individuals – to take responsibility for eradicating violence against women and girls.