Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, today:
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
It is a pleasure to join this meeting of the Group of Friends for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.
In the year since I issued my appeal for peace in the home, 146 Member States have committed to stepping up efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. I thank the members of the Group of Friends for helping to mobilize this response.
The COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker shows that Governments around the world have taken more than 700 measures to address gender-based violence during the pandemic. I thank the European Union in particular, for its leadership both through this Group, and through our partnership on the Spotlight Initiative, which has helped to accelerate progress to end violence against women and girls in 31 countries and provided a lifeline to many women’s organizations. I encourage more partners to join this comprehensive global effort.
But we need to do more. In every region, violence against women and girls has continued to escalate in all forms — from domestic violence to child marriage to sexual exploitation. As our social and professional lives have moved online, harassment and abuse have followed women into digital spaces, while surveillance and policing of their activities has increased. This violence is sometimes blamed on the pandemic. But that ignores the responsibility of perpetrators and the importance of accountability.
Our response as leaders is critical. In the coming months, the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico and France will provide new opportunities to chart a fresh and bold feminist agenda. I encourage all members of this Group of Friends to play a full part in the Forum, and to support the Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence as it accelerates its transformative efforts. And I urge you to continue to prioritize addressing violence against women and girls in your pandemic response and recovery efforts.
Gender-based violence is the most extreme and repugnant example of the inequality and discrimination against women and girls that permeates many areas of our lives. The economic impact of the pandemic is now amplifying these historic power imbalances, setting back women’s rights and denying women opportunities.
Now is the moment to increase support for women’s organizations and services; to target stimulus payments towards women’s training and jobs; and to take special measures, including quotas, to make sure women have equal representation everywhere decisions are made. Together, through strong partnerships and focused engagement, we can end violence against women and girls and build a more peaceful and equal world.