New York

05 March 2013

Secretary-General's remarks on violence against women and girls at high-level side event of the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women

Thank you, Mme. Michelle Bachelet, for your introduction and for your dynamic leadership of UN Women.

You have been a tireless –and fearless -- advocate for women’s equality and advancement throughout your life.

That is why we asked you to guide this important new UN body.

You have embraced this great responsibility and devoted all your considerable energy and skill to ensuring that women’s empowerment is at the core of all we do.

Thank you very much.

Dear colleagues and distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you as we recommit to ending the global disgrace of violence against women and girls.

I have been asked to speak to you this afternoon because I am the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

But I am here as a man.  A proud husband, father and grandfather.

Violence against women and girls pains me deeply.

That is why I launched the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign in 2008.

And it is why I am committed to seeing a growing network of men leaders who are prepared to speak out against violence and abuse.

Women need to live free of fear; girls need to safely enjoy their right to education.

These are basic rights.  The United Nations must do all it can to make them facts of life.

Today, the reality is different.

Too many women and girls face intimidation and physical and sexual abuse – often from those who should care for and respect them most – fathers, husbands, brothers, teachers, colleagues and supervisors.

We need to change attitudes and behaviour.  We need to change laws and ensure that they are implemented. 

Perpetrators should be punished.

The shame of violence should lie with the abuser, not the victim.

This is what the UNiTE campaign is working for.

UN Women is working with governments and civil society, businesses and celebrities, communities, young people and men to raise awareness, increase political commitment and raise resources.

There has been some movement in the right direction – but not nearly enough.

Multiple General Assembly resolutions need to be reinforced by strong action by Member States.

Today some 99 countries have national statistics showing the prevalence of violence against women and girls.

More than 125 countries have legislation on domestic violence.  But the laws have to be enforced.

The United Nations system can and must support Member States to make progress in protecting and empowering females.

The UN System-wide Action Plan is ensuring that gender equality informs all we do.

UN Country Team joint initiatives have increased from 24 countries in 2004 to well over 100 – often supported by the UNiTE campaign and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

More than 40 States have joined the COMMIT initiative, launched last November.

The UN is helping countries to implement Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

We are helping to develop national action plans and increase access to justice and the rule of law.

Peacekeepers are being trained to end sexual violence and promote women’s rights.

Women are being trained as mediators to engage in peace negotiations.

Together, the United Nations system is helping to improve the lives of women worldwide.

I thank all of you who have committed to the UNiTE campaign – and for the joint statement on ending violence against women and girls that I fully endorse.

But I must also call for more effort and resources, for this is a central issue for us all.

When women and girls enjoy all their rights and freedoms, we will be closer to realizing all our goals for sustainable development and an equitable, prosperous society.

Thank you very much.