Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the Spotlight Initiative event at the Commission on the Status of Women, in New York today:
When we joined forces with the European Union last September to launch the Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls, we said that it would be the end of “business as usual”. We pledged to work together on eradicating this widespread and devastating breach of human rights. Violence against women and girls cuts across age, class, educational and geographic boundaries, and takes many forms, including sexual violence, trafficking, intimate partner violence and femicide.
We knew our response had to be strong, coordinated and comprehensive. We understood that the world could not wait for a global movement to turn the tide on inequality, violence and discrimination against women. We knew that the time is now!
What we did not realize was that the Spotlight Initiative would be so perfectly in tune with the global mood. The Spotlight Initiative is the ideal platform to coordinate global efforts to end violence against women and girls. Over the last few months, it has been inspiring to see our joint efforts on the Spotlight Initiative take off. I thank everyone here for your engagement and support.
The United Nations system has just undertaken a wide and inclusive consultation process to listen to the experiences of the women’s movement and civil society in ending violence against women and girls. We met women in New York and Brussels, in Panama, Dakar and Nairobi.
Based on these consultations, and on the latest experts’ research and inputs practitioners, we have developed a robust and innovative technical framework. We are bringing together the experience and expertise of key United Nations agencies and our partners — within and outside the United Nations system — into a coordinated and ambitious movement to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
Over the next few months, United Nations country teams, Governments, civil society organizations and key stakeholders will work together at country level to design innovative, large-scale and high-impact national programmes, in line with the vision of the Spotlight Initiative and adapted to the local context.
These programmes will strengthen the protection of women and girls, promote access to justice, and improve policy and legal frameworks. They will also focus on building institutions, providing services and collecting data. Most important of all, they will address prevention. They will challenge the damaging social norms that drive and sustain violence.
These programmes will involve and target groups facing intersecting forms of discrimination and violence, based on factors including age, sexual orientation, HIV status, citizenship, and other identities which may increase vulnerability. Women with disabilities, for example, are 10 times more likely to experience violence.
Spotlight Initiative will also provide opportunities to scale up promising approaches and replicate them beyond the selected countries. Critically, they will also include dedicated mechanisms for the participation of women’s organizations and civil society in the design, implementation and monitoring of all its activities.
We have already, through our consultations, selected countries in Latin America for focused implementation. Beginning later this year, country programmes will be rolled out in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and Argentina. They will focus efforts on addressing femicide — a horrific crime that is more prevalent in many of these countries than anywhere else in the world. They will also address the unique challenges of impunity, violence and insecurity. We are confident our efforts will have a sustainable and transformative impact, and will make a real difference to the lives of women and girls.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our plan to build an inclusive, sustainable world in which all can live in safety, free from the threat of violence. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are aimed at improving the lives of all and addressing the inequalities that underpin poverty, hunger and lack of opportunity.
The Spotlight Initiative is a framework ensuring that no one is left behind. And it is a model partnership for implementing the changes we need, centred on Goal 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment — a key enabler to achieve all the goals.
Together we have a unique opportunity to show that when all key stakeholders collaborate, basing their efforts on the latest evidence, to make a concerted and comprehensive investment in gender equality, we can make a significant difference in the lives of women and girls and advance the implementation of all the Sustainable Development Goals.
I thank the European Union for their belief in multilateralism and their trust in the United Nations and the value of our unique partnership. I particularly thank the leadership of the European Union: High Representative Federica Mogherini, Commissioner Neven Mimica, Helga Schmid of the European External Action Service, and their teams, who have worked hand in hand with us as we move from concept to action.
Together, with the support of the European Union and the United Nations, we are bringing violence out of the shadows and exposing it to the Spotlight. Violence against women and girls has nowhere to hide. We are coming for it, in all its forms and manifestations around the world. Together, we will implement the Spotlight Initiative and create a world in which all women and girls can walk free and tall, in safety and dignity.