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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November

Intl Day Eliminating Violence Against Women 2014In observation of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a number of events were held and campaigns launched on behalf of the United Nations, civil society, and other stakeholders. These included a panel discussion entitled “Violence against Women: Best Laws and Policies” at UN Headquarters and the launch of the annual “16 days of activism against gender based violence” campaign, which extends through Human Rights Day, 10 December. This article provides coverage of the panel discussion, several of the 16 Days initiatives, and background information on efforts to eliminate violence against women.

Panel Discussion on “Violence against Women: Best Laws and Policies” – a step further toward ending gender-based violence

The World Future Council (WFC) and its partners, UN Women and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), hosted an interactive panel discussion on Violence against Women: Best Laws and Policies on 25 November at UN Headquarters in New York. The discussion brought together a number of speakers, including representatives from the Council of Europe, the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations, the Minnesota House of Representatives, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP) to debate the implementation of effective laws and policies to reduce gender-based violence. The panel discussion built on the 2014 Future Policy Award ceremony, held in Geneva on 14 October.

View the webcast of the 25 November panel discussion here.

2014 Future Policy Award

The 2014 Future Policy Award of the World Future Council focused this year on effective laws and policies that address violence against women and girls. The winning laws and policies were announced by the World Future Council – in partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women.  

2014 Gold Award: “The Duluth Model” (1981)

The Gold Award was presented to the “Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence” by the city of Duluth, Minnesota. “The Duluth Model” prioritized the safety and autonomy of domestic violence survivors while holding perpetrators accountable through a community-wide coordinated response, including a unique partnership between non-profit and government agencies. This approach to combating violence against women has had global impact as it has inspired the implementation of violence protection laws in other cities in the US and countries around the world, including Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Romania and Australia.
2014 Silver Awards: Law Prohibiting Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Burking Faso (1996) and Psychosocial and legal court assistance for victims of violence during criminal and civil procedure in Austria (2006)

Burkina Faso was awarded one of two Silver Awards for its law prohibiting FGM, adopted in 1996. Since then, surveys confirm a significant decrease in the proportion of younger women who have undergone the harmful practice. About 12% of girls under the age of 14 are cut now, compared to 25% in 2006 and 66.35% in 1996. Austria received the prize for its law granting psychosocial and legal court assistance for victims of violence during criminal and civil procedure. It effectively safeguards the rights of victims of violence and empowers them during court proceedings. This was a seminal change to the country’s Criminal and Civil Procedure Act.

2014 Vision Award: The Council of Europe’s “Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence”         

The Council of Europe’s “Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence,” also known as the Istanbul Convention, came into force in August 2014. This legally-binding human rights treaty commits States parties to adopt a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary response to violence through long-term preventive actions, along with measures to ensure the prosecution of perpetrators and protection of survivors. The Convention is currently open for accession by any State in the world.

Access further information here.

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, 25 November – 10 December

The annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign calls for the elimination of all forms of violence against women, bringing together the international community and people all over the world to contribute to raising awareness and maintaining efforts in combating gender-based violence at the local, regional, and global levels. Within the framework of the campaign, the United Nations system and civil society carry out numerous activities, reaching out to governments and communities alike. The activities culminated on 10 December, Human Rights Day, as gender-based violence is a fundamental human rights violation.

UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign: Orange YOUR Neighborhood

In observance of the International Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the “Orange YOUR Neighborhood” initiative as part of his UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign. The initiative invited individuals to organize “Orange Events” in their neighborhoods for 16 days starting on 25 November, ranging from marches, marathons and panel discussions to radio and television programmes, concerts and film festivals.

Read the Secretary-General’s message for the day here.

More information is available online.

Access the UN Women webpage.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Feature Stories on Women and Gender-Based Violence

Under this year’s theme for the 16 Days Campaign, “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) shared the stories of courageous women who are working in all corners of the world and in all settings to ensure women and girls can live free from the fear of violence.  

Access these stories here.

Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) collection of writings on gender-based violence and militarism, and action kit

For the 16 Days Campaign, the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) collected “Activist Writings on the Intersections of Gender-Based Violence & Militarism,” available here.

CWGL also produced a Take Action Kit for the 16 Days, available here.

Background on efforts to eliminate violence against women

Statistics on gender-based violence

The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women and girls as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” According to the 2014 “Global Status Report on Violence Prevention,” one in five girls has been sexually abused and one in three women has been a victim of violence at some point in her lifetime. The report, jointly published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), is based on existing data from 133 countries and is the first of its kind to assess national efforts to address interpersonal violence, namely child maltreatment, youth violence, intimate partner and sexual violence, and elder abuse. Individual country profiles reflect the extent to which key violence prevention programmes and laws and selected services for victims of violence are being implemented. According to the 2013 WHO Global and regional estimates of violence against women (VAW) report, the first systematic study of global data on prevalence of VAW, intimate partner violence is the most common type of VAW, affecting 30% of women worldwide, while 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners. This type of violence is frequently invisible and has many negatives health effects, warns the WHO.

Towards recognition of gender-based violence: conventions and agreements

The first World Conference of the International Women's Year held in Mexico City in 1975 laid the foundation for many decades of significant progress in recognizing gender-based violence as a human rights violation, and advancing gender equality, including through the landmark Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action. Subsequently the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) came into force in 1981, and the Optional Protocol to this Convention was adopted in 1999.

Violence against women and girls is not confined to a specific group, culture, region or country, but is a global concern. In this context, UN entities, civil society, academics and other stakeholders have formed partnerships for many decades around the shared objective of reducing and preventing gender-based violence worldwide.

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