Eradicating Discrimination, Changing Mindsets Crucial in Addressing Roots of Violence against Women, Secretary-General Tells Panel

11 March 2010

Eradicating Discrimination, Changing Mindsets Crucial in Addressing Roots of Violence against Women, Secretary-General Tells Panel

11 March 2010
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Eradicating Discrimination, Changing Mindsets Crucial in Addressing Roots

of Violence against Women, Secretary-General Tells Panel


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Panel on Violence against Women, in New York, today, 11 March:

I am pleased to address this Panel on an issue of central importance to our work. 

Fifteen years ago, the Beijing Platform for Action identified putting an end to violence against women as critical to achieving equality, development and peace.  We have seen some progress since then.  International and regional human rights treaties, United Nations conferences and summits, and declarations and resolutions adopted by United Nations bodies have elaborated a long and wide-ranging list of obligations that Member States must fulfil in our efforts to eliminate violence against women.

The Security Council has also taken important steps.  This October will mark 10 years since the Council adopted resolution 1325 (2000) on women and peace and security.  Further resolutions have firmly established that sexual violence in conflict can be prosecuted as war crimes, crimes against humanity or acts of genocide. 

I am strongly committed to this struggle.  I am pleased to report that this morning, the new United Nations Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, took her oath of office.  I have no doubt that she will be a powerful and constructive voice in helping countries to translate awareness and commitments into action on this most grave human rights issue. 

Sexual abuse during conflict is just one of many ways that women and girls are brutalized and denied their fundamental rights.  Throughout the world, too many women live in fear of violence.  Whether it is domestic violence, sex trafficking, so-called “honour” crimes or female genital cutting, violence against women and girls continues to be a horrific and all too common crime.  It is devastating to individuals and societies alike.  It causes personal suffering, undermines development, generates instability, and makes peace in society much harder to achieve.

We all need to unite to demand accountability for the violations of the rights of women and girls.  We all need to take concrete steps to end impunity.  We must listen to and support the victims.  We must address the roots of violence against women by eradicating discrimination and changing the mindsets that perpetuate it.

Exactly two years ago -- at the opening of the fifty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women -- I launched my campaign “UNiTE to End Violence against Women”.  The Campaign seeks to raise public awareness and generate political will.  Regional chapters have been launched in Latin America and Africa.

I have also established a Network of Men Leaders.  I am delighted that Dean Peacock of South Africa, who is a member of my Network, is here to share his thoughts with us.  We will continue to identify other men and boys to join.  Without them, we cannot win this fight. 

I am encouraged that attention is turning to this unfinished agenda item from Beijing.  As a husband, father, son and grandfather, I am ready to do my part.  As Secretary-General, it is my proud duty.

My Campaign extends to 2015, which coincides with the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  Women’s empowerment is central to all the Goals.  And freedom from fear and violence is a precondition for empowerment.  We must ensure that the United Nations itself has the resources it needs to pursue this goal with the urgency it deserves.

Let us therefore press ahead and establish a strengthened United Nations gender entity.  I urge Member States to act without delay.  Let us rid our societies of this cause for global shame.  Let us end the violence and empower women and girls for the benefit of all. 

I wish you a successful and inspiring discussion.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.