24 November 2015 From parades to soccer matches, school debates, and the lighting up of hundreds of iconic monuments, starting tomorrow a United Nations call to “Orange the World” will galvanize global action calling for an end to violence against women and girls, which according to the UN’s agency for gender equality (UN Women) affects one in three worldwide.
“Violence against women and girls remains one of the most serious – and the most tolerated – human rights violations,” said UN Under- Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, in a press release.
“It is both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality and discrimination. Its continued presence is one of the clearest markers of societies out of balance and we are determined to change that,” she continued.
The call to action is part of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, led by UN Women. The colour orange, which has come to symbolize a bright and optimistic future free from violence against women and girls, will help unify the large-scale social mobilization.
It will be carried out during the civil society-driven 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which run from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, until 10 December, Human Rights Day.
This year’s ‘Orange the World” initiative will focus on the theme of preventing violence against women and girls, in the specific context of the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which includes targets on ending violence against women and girls.
UN Women announced that coinciding with the 16 days of Activism, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka will undertake visits to three continents highlighting the urgent need for efforts to address the pandemic of violence at all levels – from global to the local – as well as across all sections of society, during high-profile events in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Spain and Turkey.
Meanwhile, the official commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in New York will also see the launch of a landmark “UN Framework to Underpin Action to Prevent Violence against Women,” jointly developed by a number of UN entities.
“The focus must now be on prevention, and although there is no single solution to such a complex problem, there is growing evidence of the range of actions that can stop violence before it happens. This comprehensive approach forms the core of the new framework developed by UN Women and our partner agencies,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka explained.
According to UN Women, there has been some progress over the last few decades; today 125 countries have laws against sexual harassment and 119 against domestic violence, but only 52 countries on marital rape.
The agency warned that despite efforts, violence against women and girls continues in every country, with women being beaten in their homes, harassed on the streets and bullied on the Internet. UN Women stressed that preventing and ending violence means tackling its root cause, gender inequality.
To this end, the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) include a goal dedicated to gender equality—Goal 5—which aims to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls. It recognizes violence against women as an obstacle to fully achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and provides comprehensive indicators on what should be done to address that goal.
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