27 September 2018

No Woman Should Die Because of Her Gender, Deputy Secretary-General Says at Event to Launch Latin America Regional Anti-Femicide Programme

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the 2018 European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative High-level Event at the General Assembly for the launch of the Latin America Regional Programme “Working in Partnership with Latin American Countries to Stop Femicide”, in New York today:

I am pleased to welcome you all here, one year since we launched the Spotlight Initiative here at the United Nations.

This Initiative aimed at eliminating violence against women and girls is bold and comprehensive.  It is rooted in strong partnerships between the European Union, Governments, civil society organizations and the United Nations at [the] country level.  It re-affirms our joint commitment to eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030, and to placing gender equality at the centre of our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Given the pervasive, universal and entrenched nature of violence against women and girls, we knew that we would need to combine our individual efforts if we were to succeed.  And today we are here to follow through with concerted action.

This morning we are launching the Spotlight Initiative in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.  These five countries have shown the political courage to confront and end femicide ‑ a crime that claims the lives of 12 women a day in Latin America.  Latin America is home to 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world.  Ninety-eight per cent of gender‑related killings go unprosecuted.

The €50 million investment we are announcing today will go into action to:  address legislative and policy gaps; strengthen institutions; promote attitudes of gender equality; provide quality services for survivors, and reparations for victims of violence and their families; produce disaggregated data; and empower women’s movements in the five priority countries.

Addressing femicide comprehensively from each of these angles is essential to successful and lasting results.  When a woman or girl is killed just because of her gender, it reflects social norms and attitudes rooted in inequality and power imbalances between women and men.  Effective prevention, a critical pillar of the Spotlight Initiative, will require us to join forces and support national efforts to combat the normalization of violence against women, where family violence, sexual harassment and other forms of aggression in private and public spaces are so pervasive they can go unchecked.

Today we remember women like Mariana Lima, who was killed by her police officer husband in Mexico in 2010, and her mother Irinea Buendía, who fought for six painful years [before] her daughter’s murderer was brought to justice.  We need to end impunity for perpetrators and ensure that no woman or girl experiences violence either in the home from a partner or in any public space, including from gangs, traffickers or others.

No woman should die because she is a woman.  Through the Spotlight Initiative, these five countries will show the world how political will, investment and a coordinated effort can lead to transformative change in attitudes and behaviour, and end the culture of violence.

I am happy to see that our extensive collaboration over the past year has borne fruit in the form of these five new country programmes.  I would like to appreciate the leadership of United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and regional commissions at country level, as well as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and all other implementing agencies, and our partners, for working together with the European Union and delivering as one.

I hope that these are the first of many.  I urge all partners and supporters of the Spotlight Initiative to continue working in this collective spirit to end femicide once and for all.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.