It is a great pleasure to join you today.
Since this will be my last observance of this Day, Orange Day, as Secretary-General, I want to thank all of you for a decade of remarkable global activism towards ending violence against women and girls. I will try to participate in Korea and I will be with you in spirit, in the future.
You have defended the vulnerable and fought impunity. The United Nations and I, personally, have stood with you.
This is truly a matter of life and death. In some countries, as many as 70 per cent of women report having experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner. In some countries, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims.
The statistics almost defy belief. What is even harder to understand is why: Why, why men prey on women and girls. Why societies shame the victims. Why governments fail to punish deadly crimes. Why the world denies itself the fruits of women’s full participation.
The world cannot afford to pay this price. Women and girls cannot afford it – and should not have to.
I have tried to put the full UN machinery behind our efforts to rid the world of violence against women and girls, including through UN Women, the Unite campaign, the Network of Men Leaders, and my own constant advocacy.
At long last, we are seeing a growing global recognition that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development.
Yet there is still much more we can and must do to turn this awareness into meaningful prevention and action.
These efforts are chronically under-funded. I call on governments to show their commitment by dramatically increasing national spending in all relevant areas, including in support of women’s movements and civil society organizations. I also encourage world leaders to contribute to UN Women and to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. We look as well to the private sector, philanthropies and concerned citizens to do their part.
I have seen much horror during the past ten years. But I have also seen great heroism and resilience -- by women risking their lives in the fight for human rights, and by girls reclaiming their lives following unspeakable attacks.
Some of the most impactful and inspiring moments of my entire term as Secretary-General occurred in the context of our struggle for women’s empowerment. I will never forget my conversations with girls and women at the HEAL Africa hospital in Goma, DRC. And I will always remember my meetings with one of the world’s great advocates, Malala Yusafzai.
I thank everyone who has joined to support this vital cause, including you here in this room.
Today, we are seeing the world lit up in orange, symbolizing a bright future for women and girls. With investments and political will, we can keep these lights shining for good.
Thank you very much.