A promise is a promise: United Nations agencies in the Middle East and North Africa call for action to end violence against women and girls

08 Mar 2013

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Amman - Cairo – As the world marks International Women’s Day, United Nations agencies based in the Middle East and North Africa  call on governments in the region to implement the commitments they have made to gender equality and to ending violence against women and girls.

Under the banner of this year’s International Women’s Day theme “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women,”UN WOMEN, UNFPA, UNV, UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNRWA and UNIC adds their voice to call for a region free from violence against women and girls.

In recent years, national governments, UN agencies, and civil society have joined forces and made impressive progress in advancing the rights of girls and women. In Marrakech, Beirut and Cairo, for example, the Safe cities programme is being pioneered which aims at creating cities free of violence and harassment.

However, despite progress made,violence against girls and women is rampant in the Middle East and North Africa region. So-called honor killing, trafficking, sexual harassment, and domestic violence continue to be a reality for far too many women and girls. This reality is a particular concern to women and girls in countries  in conflict.

Data, when available, arestaggering.  It is estimated that 1 out of 5 girls in the region overall– and 1 out of 3 in Yemen -will be married before she turns 18.Female genital mutilation/cutting is declining in many countries in the region, and especially among younger women, but some countries are still seeing prevalence rates as high as 90%.

As a response to women taking over public spaces through democratic processes, we are now witnessing a form of violence taking place where women are being attacked, abused or sexually assaulted –for no other reason than being women.

Violence against  women and girls does not only harm them physically and mentally, it also threatens their economic and social well-being, and hinders them from being able to contribute to the development of their country, financially, socially and politically.

UN agencies in the Middle East and North Africa region Are committed to the advancement of women’s rights and the elimination of violence against  women and girls. Working with government and non-government partners, we advocate for the adoption and implementation of legislation that protects and safeguards the rights of all women and girls, including marginalized women, migrant women, women living with HIV, those from rural areas and women with disabilities.

We also work with communities across the region to raise awareness about the need to put an end to all forms of violence against women and girls.

On this special day, we call upon states to adhere to the commitments they made under all internationally  recognized human rights instruments, including  the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Because a promise is a promise!

Contact Information

Nihal Helmy (UNIC): nihal.helmy@unic-eg.org, +20 2 2795 9816

 

Sarah Brun (UN WOMEN): sarah.brun@unwomen.org,+20 2 2380 1720