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To “leave no one behind,” we must end the violence that leaves women and girls behind on every continent and in every country. Credit:UNDP.

 

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls – a day that reminds us that we all have a role to play in ending the world’s most pervasive, yet one of the least recognized human rights abuses. 

This year’s theme, “Leave No One Behind: End Violence Against Women and Girls,” underscores the harsh fact that violence against women not only denies women and girls their rights, health and opportunities, but undermines all development efforts. To “leave no one behind,” one of the guiding principles of the 2030 Agenda, we must end the violence that leaves women and girls behind on every continent and in every country.

The scope of violence against women is alarmingly vast and varied. It is estimated that more than a third of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.  Violence against women includes child marriage, domestic violence and sexual violence, rape as a weapon of war and human trafficking. It includes sexual harassment, cyber-bullying, dating violence and elder abuse.  At the heart of all forms of physical and sexual violence is gender inequality and discrimination, which violate the fundamental human rights of women and girls.

Yet despite its pervasiveness, violence against women is not inevitable – and it is preventable.

With gender equality and violence against women now better integrated into the Sustainable Development Goals than in any prior development framework, we have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen efforts to address and reduce gender-based violence. UNDP is committed to continuing working with sister agencies, in particular UN Women and UNFPA, and with governments and civil society partners, including men, to prevent and address the violence that affects millions of women around the world.

On this day, let us remember that all of us have a critical role to play in ending violence against women.  We must speak out against harassment and violence in our workplaces, in our social arenas and through media and popular culture.  

Together we can seize the momentum created by the Sustainable Development Goals and the recently launched EU-UN “Spotlight Initiative to End Violence Against Women” to address the scourge of gender-based violence with renewed vigor and commitment. Together we can ensure that women and girls everywhere can live free of violence.

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