Helen Clark: Elimination of Violence against Women

25 Nov 2010

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Message on the International Day
for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Violence against women is global in scale, spread, and impact. Up to six out of every ten women will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. This violence is rooted in unequal power relations between men and women, and is a clear violation of women’s human rights.  While the serious human impact of these violations is incalculable, the economic and social costs are staggering, impeding economic growth, human development, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is marked to acknowledge this injustice and encourage change. This year’s commemoration focuses on Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence against Women. The message is loud and clear: violence against women should never be silenced or tolerated.

A series of ground breaking Security Council resolutions, beginning with Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security, represents a concerted international effort to ensure women’s participation in peace keeping and peace building, as well as to prevent and respond effectively to gender based violence. This year celebrates the ten year anniversary of Resolution 1325, and it presents an important opportunity for renewed action.

For its part, UNDP’s commitment to eliminating gender based violence remains unwavering and is a part of our core commitment to gender equality and  the achievement of the MDGs. Working with our UN partners, we help countries to combat violence against women, including in 25 crisis countries where we support national efforts to improve women’s security and access to justice.

UNDP also supports the UN system’s action to address the scourge of gender-based violence, including the “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” campaign and the work of UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict.

But we still need to do more and we need to do better. Too often women have to suffer in silence, ashamed and afraid to seek justice. Too often they are subject to sexual violence as a method of war, and too often impunity prevails and crimes go unpunished. Too often women are treated as victims only and not recognized as and supported to be the important agents of change which they are.

One day is not enough to eliminate violence against women. This call to action needs to be shored up by continuous and unequivocal international commitment. UNDP is fully engaged in this important cause.