I am pleased to open this important meeting.
Since I became Secretary-General almost a decade ago, I have been a staunch advocate for ending violence against women and girls.
This is why I launched the UNiTE campaign in 2008. Today, scores of leaders and ministers, hundreds parliamentarians and millions of individuals have added their names to the action call.
The tireless efforts of the women’s movement, Governments and other partners have put this struggle at the centre of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Our goal is planet 50-50, where women and girls live free from violence and discrimination.
We are now entering the second phase of the African Women’s Decade. The continent’s heads of State have declared 2016 the Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the rights of women. The United Nations applauds this choice.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa prohibits all forms of exploitation, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women – ratified by most African countries – also reinforces the rights of women to a life free from discrimination and violence.
Police play an essential role in fighting abuse. They work with judicial counterparts, investigate allegations, identify alleged perpetrators, promote accountability and ensure access to remedies for victims. These are important conditions for effective prevention.
Where police are trained and tasked to spot the signs of domestic violence, domestic violence fatalities have decreased.
We need strong laws to end violence against women, including female genital mutilation, and we need enforcement.
Where legal measures and policies addressing violence against women and girls are in place with quality responses and services for survivors, we begin to see change.
United Nations and African Union Police in peace operations help prevent and address sexual violence in conflict, which disproportionally affects women and girls.
Through community policing, they empower the societies they serve, manage criminality, deter violence, help rebuild safety and promote public trust. They bring to life Security Council resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions on women, peace and security.
I call on Member States to contribute more female police. We especially need Francophone women to serve in our operations. They can put communities at ease and stand as inspiring role models for local women.
This is critical in our world where too often, we see the deplorable problem of law enforcement personnel being implicated in the perpetration of violence against women and girls.
The United Nations remains firmly committed to a zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. I have demonstrated my firm resolve on this issue.
Our actions cover the full spectrum of preventive, enforcement and remedial measures. This means investigating all credible allegations to ensure there is no complacency and no impunity.
The United Nations will hold a Chiefs of Police Summit – called UN Cops – in New York this June. I encourage all to participate in this valuable opportunity to exchange views on how to address the pressing security and rule of law challenges we face – and how police peacekeepers in the field can gain skills that they can bring home to their national services.
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the Kigali conference in 2010, speakers acknowledged that the journey to a world free of gender-based violence would be tough. One participant said, “Whatever the challenge, we must never give up.” All agreed to commit time, energy, resources and will to achieve success.
Today, we carry on this spirit.
Thank you. Merci.