25 November 2013
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women


Political will and adequate resources were critical to ending violence against women and girls across the world, the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women) said at Headquarters today.


During a press conference co-organized by UN-Women and the Permanent Mission of Italy, Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri recalled that Member States had reached a historic agreement earlier in 2013 on far-reaching policy actions to prevent and respond to violence against women.  Now was the time to put those recommendations into practice, she emphasized.


Pointing out that one in three women and girls – one third of all women and girls worldwide – was subjected to violence in her lifetime, Ms. Puri described violence against women and girls as a gross human rights violation that knew no boundaries of age, race, religion or nationality.  “At its roots lie gender inequality, discrimination and subordination,” she said.  “It lurks on the streets of our cities and in offices and schools, and in conflicts, it is used as a horrific method of warfare.” 


With up to 70 per cent of women in some countries reported to have experienced violence at the hands of their husbands or partners, she said that disturbingly, it was most prevalent at home, where women should feel safe.  To tackle the pandemic, it was necessary to stop the violence before it even started, she said, stressing the importance of protection through enforcement of the law, the prosecution of perpetrators and ensuring access to justice for victims, as well as providing comprehensive services for survivors and support for their recovery.  “It also needs people around the world who raise their voices and show their colours, and this is what the commemoration of this day is all about,” she added.


She went on to note that the Secretary-General had prioritized the issue as part of his gender equality and empowerment programme, through his UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, launched in 2008 to galvanize global action to prevent and punish violence against women and girls.


Accompanying Ms. Puri were Serena Dandini, author of Wounded to Death, a theatrical performance featuring a series of monologues that give voice to women murdered on the basis of their gender, and Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations.


Ms. Dandini said she had written her play to protest violence against women, adding that she expected it to raise consciousness among both men and women.  Hopefully, the play would change the behaviour and attitudes of men and they would treat women with honour and dignity.


Mr. Cardi said that his Mission and the Department of Public Information were co-hosting the staging of the play at United Nations Headquarters to demonstrate Italy’s commitment to ending violence against women.


Responding to questions, Ms. Puri appealed to Governments, civil society, media, women’s organizations, men, young people and the private sector to join forces with the entire United Nations system in addressing the “global pandemic” of violence against women.  She underlined the need for cultural and behavioural changes to stop women from being viewed as “second-class citizens”, and for the enactment of laws to end violence against women and girls, and to ensure their empowerment.  Despite significant progress in encouraging national policies, many gaps remained, and more than 100 countries had no specific laws against domestic violence and other abuses heaped upon women.


Ms. Puri said UN-Women was working with partners, other United Nations agencies and peacekeeping missions with the aim of empowering women and girls, and training them to overcome the effects of violence.  One such partnership would be with FIFA and the Government of Brazil during the forthcoming World Cup.  She concluded by stating that “zero tolerance and zero incidents worldwide” was the message for today’s commemoration of the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record