By Cecilia Ologunagba
New York, Nov. 23, 2023
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has called for greater investment in preventing violence against women and girls, an issue that transcends all borders and cultures.
Such investment is not just practical but transformative, she said in a video message to the official UN commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women held in New York on Wednesday.
“Investment in prevention is to invest in our collective well-being,” she said. “It means creating conditions where women and girls can thrive, unburdened by the fear of violence.”
Mohammed said violence against women is one of the most pervasive human rights violations, and a global public health problem with negative multiplier effects across economies, politics and societies.
Rates are alarmingly high, and further aggravated by conflicts, crises and emergencies.
Global backlash against gender equality is threatening to undo decades of hard-won gains, while women’s rights are facing more risks than ever before, including online.
She called for investment that will address both root causes and drivers of violence, challenge discriminatory norms and practices and promote holistic prevention policies and programmes.
Addressing root causes and drivers requires investment in data collection and analysis that will be used to inform policy and programming.
“To tackle discriminatory norms and practices, legal reform to enhance equality and advocacy towards behavior change is needed,” she said.
Furthermore, prevention policies and programmes must be multi-sectoral, coordinated and well-resourced, with a long-term vision.
Mohammed pointed to the Spotlight Initiative, a European Union-UN partnership to end all violence against women and girls by 2030, as a promising model.
Focus areas include domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence (GBV), femicide, and human trafficking.
She said nearly 500 laws and policies have been signed or strengthened under the partnership, some 2.5 million women and girls have accessed GBV services, and thousands of lives have been saved.
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is commemorated annually on 25 November and marks the start of 16 days of activism which conclude on Human Rights Day on December 10.