Violence against women, the shadow pandemic in the COVID-19 crisis

Violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified since the outbreak of COVID-19. As cases continue to strain health services, essential services, such as domestic violence shelters and helplines, have reached capacity. In the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), we all must commit to prioritize addressing this issue in our response to the crisis. UN Women provides up-to-date information and support to vital programmes to fight the Shadow Pandemic.

The UN joins hands with survivors, activists, decision-makers, and people from every walk of life, to shine a light on the need for better-informed responses.
Photo:UN Women
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres prepares to brief the media on the upcoming G20 Summit.

UN chief to press G20 for greater solidarity and support during pandemic

20 November 2020 — When he addresses leaders of the world’s richest countries at the G20 summit this weekend, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will deliver a simple message on the COVID-19...

Carbon dioxide levels hit new record; COVID impact ‘a tiny blip’, WMO says  

23 November 2020 — Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere hit a new record of 410.5 parts per million in 2019, and are expected to keep rising this year, the World Meteorological...

‘Act urgently’ to stave off catastrophic famine in Yemen: Guterres

20 November 2020 — Yemen is in “imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen for decades”, the UN chief warned in a statement released on Friday, calling for urgent action on the part of...

UN Sustainable Development Goals

17 Goals to transform our world

The Sustainable Development Goals are a call for action by all countries — poor, rich and middle-income — to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

Act Now

The ActNow campaign aims to trigger individual action on the defining issue of our time. People around the world have joined to make a difference in all facets of their lives, from the food they eat to the clothes they wear.

Decade of Action

With just 10 years to go, an ambitious global effort is underway to deliver the 2030 promise—by mobilizing more governments, civil society, businesses and calling on all people to make the Global Goals their own.

Thomas the Tank engine

Learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals! On our student resources page you will find plenty of materials for young people and adults alike. Share with your family and friends to help achieve a better world for all.

Goal 2: Zero Hunger
Zero Hunger

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

More from the
United Nations

Featured stories from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

Illustration of people with microbes in the background.

Antimicrobials: handle with care

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) aims to increase awareness of global antimicrobial resistance and to encourage best practices among the general public, health workers and policy makers to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections. FAO, WHO and partners, expanded the scope of the Observance, changing its focus from "antibiotics" to the more encompassing and inclusive term "antimicrobials". The week will be celebrated every year on 18-24 November starting from 2020. This year’s theme for the human health sector is “United to preserve antimicrobials".

Girl wearing a UNICEF t-shirt speaks into a bullhorn.

World Children's Day

World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s annual day of action for children, by children. This year, the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a child rights crisis. The costs of the pandemic for children are immediate and, if unaddressed, may last a lifetime. It’s time for generations to come together to reimagine the type of world we want to create. On 20 November, kids will reimagine a better world. UNICEF and partners are calling on governments to adopt a Six-Point Plan to Protect our Children. Use #WorldChildrensDay to join the conversation to reimagine a better future for every child.

Poster of the Orange the World campaign.

16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign is marking the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November to 10 December 2020) under the global theme, “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!". UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign is amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls. Read and share stories, get inspired by activists.

2020 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals

This year’s World Bank publication guides readers through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using interactive storytelling and innovative data visualizations.

The story of Ishmael Beah

At 13, Ishmael Beah was recruited as a child soldier. Today, as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Ishmael continues to give hope to many children and young people around the world.

Help end violence against women, even during a pandemic

UN Women shines a light on the need for funding, essential services, prevention and data that shapes better-informed responses to violence against women and girls.

Moslawi woman finds hope in books

UNESCO launched a flagship initiative in February 2018 to Revive the Spirit of Mosul, as the Organization’s response for the recovery of one of Iraq’s iconic cities.

Someone wearing a UNFPA vest sits at the bedside of a patient.

The journey for one breast cancer survivor in Gaza

In Palestine, it is widely understood that vulnerability to breast cancer can be hereditary. As a result, some women avoid getting screened because they fear a breast cancer diagnosis could affect their daughters’ marriage prospects. Women with breast cancer have also faced gender-based violence and abandonment. A recent UNFPA study showed that breast cancer stigma is a major cause of delayed detection and treatment.

A woman and a small girl smile.

First-ever global commitment to eliminate a cancer

WHO‘s Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer outlines three key steps: vaccination, screening and treatment. Successful implementation could reduce more than 40% of new cases of the disease and 5 million related deaths by 2050. This historic milestone marks the first time that 194 countries commit to eliminating cancer - following adoption of a resolution at this year’s World Health Assembly. 

A closeup of a person in a lab working with test tubes.

Economic fallout to long outlive the health crisis

Global markets and spirits are up with the news that two COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be more than 90% effective in late-stage clinical trials. But while there is growing confidence that an end to the health pandemic is in sight, an UNCTAD report published today warns that a viable vaccine will not halt the spread of economic damage, which will be felt long into the future, especially by the poorest and most vulnerable.

An illustration of a person wearing a facemask.

Preventing pandemics using nuclear-derived techniques

Nuclear-derived tools supplied by IAEA in partnership with FAO play a critical role in researching, detecting, diagnosing and characterizing zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19. In recent discoveries, COVID-19 infections have been recorded to transmit from humans to minks and back to humans, showing that the virus quickly adapts to new hosts. Understanding such mutations is vital in the development of effective vaccines.

What we do

Due to the powers vested in its Charter and its unique international character, the United Nations can take action on the issues confronting humanity in the 21st century, including:

Structure of the
United Nations

The main parts of the UN structure are the General Assembly, the
Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the UN Secretariat. All were established in 1945 when the UN was founded.

The General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN. All 193 Member States of the UN are represented in the General Assembly, making it the only UN body with universal representation.

The Security Council has primary responsibility, under the UN Charter, for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has 15 Members (5 permanent and 10 non-permanent members). Each Member has one vote. Under the Charter, all Member States are obligated to comply with Council decisions.

The Economic and Social Council is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as implementation of internationally agreed development goals.

The Trusteeship Council was established in 1945 by the UN Charter, under Chapter XIII, to provide international supervision for 11 Trust Territories that had been placed under the administration of seven Member States, and ensure that adequate steps were taken to prepare the Territories for self-government and independence.

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Its seat is at the Peace Palace in the Hague (Netherlands). It is the only one of the six principal organs of the United Nations not located in New York (United States of America).

The Secretariat comprises the Secretary-General and tens of thousands of international UN staff members who carry out the day-to-day work of the UN as mandated by the General Assembly and the Organization's other principal organs.

Learn more

The Middelgrunden Off Shore Windturbines located in the Øresund Straight separating Denmark and Sweden. UN Photo

Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society.

Women at UN CSW63 Side Event - “Take the Hot Seat”. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential. Gender equality, besides being a fundamental human right, is essential to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres is greeted on his visit to the Central African Republic

While global poverty rates have been cut by more than half since 2000, one in ten people in developing regions still lives on less than US$1.90 a day — the internationally agreed poverty line, and millions of others live on slightly more than this daily amount.

young children smiling at camera

In 2020, the United Nations turns 75. UN75 aims to build a global vision for the year 2045, the UN's centenary; to increase understanding of the threats to that future; and to drive collective action to realize that vision.  #Join the Conversation #Be the Change

Watch and Listen

Video and audio from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

As part of a project to improve policing and security in Nepal, forum theatre is helping bring communities together to discuss the injustices they face and explore what they can do about it.

Together against school bullying

Bullying in school is a serious issue, affecting one in three students worldwide. This animation follows the stories of three young victims of bullying across the world, revealing the negative consequences of bullying on educational outcomes, health and well-being. It also highlights practical actions all people can take to help stop bullying in school.

What will you do with water data?

Like water, data can shape the world. World Bank Water data aggregates thousands of datasets across organizations and countries to help decision makers develop policies based on solid evidence as well as help researchers better understand needs to formulate solutions. Data can help transform ideas into action, delivering a water-secure world for all. What will you do with water data? Get started at

UN Podcasts

Martin Griffiths visits a locally displaced Yemeni woman

All you have to do is your best

"Days go by. And you know that every single day is a day of somebody losing their lives, or their livelihoods. And so you say to them, no more time!" 

Martin Griffiths is the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Yemen, a country that has been devastated by civil war, and which is experiencing one of the world's worst humanitarian crises with famine, very little medical care, and now the coronavirus pandemic. Working to end the six-year conflict there is only the latest challenge in his long career as a mediator and humanitarian worker,  and while he admits to being impatient for results, he also describes himself as an optimist, even if only 10 percent of mediation efforts ever succeed: 

"But that priceless moment, which I can only really associate with mediation, is to die for."

Listen to this latest episode of Awake at Night with Melissa Fleming.

Latest Audio from UN News

The United Nations in Pictures

Images from across the United Nations and our world-wide family of agencies, funds, and programmes.

a woman with her baby
Photo:WFP/Oluwaseun Oluwamuyiwa

Coronavirus could push migrant workers and their families into hunger, UN agencies warn

A woman waits with her baby at a food distribution point in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria. Families dependent on remittances — cash transfers from relatives working abroad — risk going hungry as coronavirus restrictions take their toll on migrants and displaced people. Most of the world’s 164 million migrant workers are in the informal sector — typically in low-skilled, cash-in-hand jobs in the agriculture, construction or service sectors — and disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Now, dwindling remittances — chiefly used to cover food and other essential needs — look set to drive up hunger, a study by the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Migration (IOM) suggests.

disability rights activist Norberta V. Soares da Cruz
Photo:UN Women/Helio Miguel

Hand over the mic: Women on the front lines of violence against women during COVID-19

“As a woman with a disability and through my work, I see that the biggest problem for people with disabilities [during the pandemic] is access to information and having their basic needs met. … The majority of people whom we interviewed revealed that they had experienced violence and discrimination from their family and community.” Norberta V. Soares da Cruz is a volunteer member of the EU-UN funded Spotlight Initiative National Civil Society Reference Group in Timor-Leste. “[We must] bring the concerns and voices of people with disabilities to discussions in the community and in government. Our voices matter. We are all in this together and we will overcome this together."

Artisan Kapya Kitungwa holds a wooden dove
Photo:© UNHCR/Will Swanson

Proud camels and peaceful doves: gifts with meaning

Artisan Kapya Kitungwa holds a wooden dove, a version of which he made for Made51 at his workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. He hopes his workshop will grow and employ many others. UNHCR launched MADE51 in 2016 to help refugees earn money and to introduce refugee artisans to global markets. Many of the refugee communities had access to raw materials and the skills to create products but lacked support. MADE51 brought the refugees together with social enterprises that could help with marketing and logistical support as well as offer advice on consumer trends and design.

Farmers harvest lavender
Photo:UNDP Serbia

Distilling herbs with zero waste in eastern Serbia

Farmers harvest lavender on the Sanicula farm in Gornja Mutnica, Serbia. As well as lavender, other typical Mediterranean plants such as lemon balm, thyme and heather are organically grown. After the harvest season, these plants are distilled into essential oils which, due to their quality, are attractive for customers on the world market. Sanicula’s project “Innovative approach to the production of pellets from medicinal herbs”, has been awarded as one of the five best innovative and climate-smart solutions within the project “Climate Smart Urban Development”, implemented by UNDP.