Violence against women and girls directly affects individuals while harming our common humanity. In response to this global challenge, I launched my UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign in 2008. Since then, partners around the world have joined our drive to protect the human rights of women and girls to live free from violence.
I welcome the chorus of voices calling for an end to the violence that affects an estimated one in three women in her lifetime. I applaud leaders who are helping to enact and enforce laws and change mindsets. And I pay tribute to all those heroes around the world who help victims to heal and to become agents of change.
Last month, on United Nations Day, I had the privilege of meeting again with one such hero: Dr. Denis Mukwege, the founder of the Panzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where women go after experiencing terrible atrocities. Dr. Mukwege has said, “Many times we are reduced to tears. Everything is so damaged. But we get to work. We operate. We fix what we can, and that is a lot.” He is inspired by the courage of the women he treats, including the many who go on to help others.
Although Dr. Mukwege is dealing with violence against women in the context of armed conflict, his spirit to confront and fix this problem should apply to all of our efforts to help women facing violence in homes, schools and other civilian settings throughout the world, in every country, every society.
Traditionally, this Day marks the start of 16 days of activism. From November 25th until December 10th – Human Rights Day – we make a special effort to organize and combat violence against women, an egregious human rights violation. This year, we are raising awareness by wearing the colour orange to symbolize our commitment to this cause.
One way to make a difference is to support the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which helps respond to human rights violations and needs from physical safety to economic security. While the demand for its grants has more than doubled in recent years, the amount it has been able to distribute has diminished by 60 per cent. I appeal to all partners to help meet this vast unmet demand for resources to further advance efforts to prevent and end violence against women and girls.
This International Day to End Violence against Women is an opportunity for all people to recommit to preventing and halting all forms of violence against women and girls.