Leadership of private sector is vital in eradicating violence against women

UN Photo/Fred Noy

The private sector must play a crucial role to end violence against women and girls. This was the key theme of the official observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Today, in his address at the UN Headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited CEO’s and corporate executives to unite against this worldwide issue. He said: “Executives are finding new ways to address violence against women from the pages of fashion magazines to the interactions between cosmetic salespeople and their clients. We welcome what these energies and ideas are doing to advance the goals of my UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.”

Recognizing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls, in 2008, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. UNiTE calls on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing this problem.

Violence against women is an issue that must concern every member of the society. It is not confined to a specific culture, region or country, or to particular groups of women. In fact, up to 70% of women experience violence in their life-time. Violence against women it’s not only physical. It can be economic, psychological or sexual.

In her address at the event, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN Women, said: “Women and girls are at risk of gender-based violence throughout their lives. This violence takes places in rich and poor countries, in urban and rural areas, in situations of peace and conflict, and in the aftermath of natural disasters.”

This global pandemic has an immense effect in our societies. Victims lose their ability to participate in public life, and thus, their opportunities to grow are limited. Violence against women has a direct impact on their families and reinforces other prevalent forms of violence.

In addition, the related costs of violence against women are extremely high. For example, the cost of intimate partner violence in the United States alone exceeds $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion is for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.

It is evident that violence against women is impeding the development and growth of our societies, and thus, it’s not sufficient to be aware of the problem. In his message for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Secretary-General invited Governments, civil society, the corporate sector, and individuals to take responsibility for eradicating violence against women and girls.

To translate words into actions, the Secretary-General encouraged governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as UN Country Teams to apply for funding to support innovative projects that will help end violence against women.

Recognizing the many challenges that lie ahead, today’s celebration was marked by the immediate need to take concrete actions and by the importance of uniting with the private sector to combat this devastating problem.

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