=By Funmi Falobi=
United Nations, UN and United States of America, USA, have called for concerted action to end violence against women and girls around the globe.
The call came as the world commemorates this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. It takes place annually from November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to December 10, Human Rights Day.
Statement by the Heads of UN agencies, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women and UNFPA, called for solidarity with survivors and survivor advocates and women’s human rights defenders who are working to prevent and end violence against women and girls.
Secretary-General’s UNiTE Campaign said, “ Our duty is not only to stand in solidarity with them but also to intensify our efforts to find solutions and measures to stop this preventable global scourge with a detrimental impact on women’s and girls’ lives and health.”
“More than a third of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives,” the statement said. Furthermore, research indicates that the cost of violence against women could amount annually to around 2 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). This is equivalent to 1.5 trillion dollars.
Beyond raising awareness, governments, the private sector, the artistic community, civil society organizations, academia and engaged citizens are again looking into new ways to urgently address this global scourge.
For more than 20 years, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (managed by UN Women) has been investing in national and local initiatives that translate policy promises into concrete benefits for women and girls, and contribute to the prevention of violence in the long run.
As part of the Spotlight Initiative to end violence against women and girls, a global, multi-year partnership between the United Nations and the European Union, we are working with different partners to increase the scale and level of ambition of our interventions. We understand that reducing and preventing violence against women is transformational: it improves the heath of women and children, reduces risks of acquiring HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), improves economic productivity and educational attainment, and reduces the risks of mental illness and substance abuse, among other benefits.
Similarly, U.S. Consul General John Bray on Monday urged Nigerians to take a firm stand against impunity, stigma and the culture of silence which fuel violence against women and girls in the country.
Speaking at a public lecture organized by the rights group Women Arise and the United Nations Information Center, to mark the commencement of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, Bray noted that curbing escalating violence against women and girls would require candid testimony by survivors and open discussion of the societal factors that perpetuate gender-based violence.
“Women and girls in Nigeria must join their sisters across the world in raising their voices to say that we must break the culture of silence by bringing these stories to light. It is only by such exposure that we can rapidly bring the violence against women and girls to an end,” he said said.
The U.S. envoy also made a case for joint action by different stakeholders to forestall violence against women while taking legal action against offenders.
“We must work together as stakeholders, in order to be proactive and curb the violence against women and girls Where we fail to prevent such violence, it also important to make those who engage in violence and abuse know that there will be no impunity for their crimes, that society is outraged by such behaviour and they will be identified, they will be denounced, prosecuted, and punished,” Bray said.
Other speakers at the event included Dr. Idiat Adebule, Lagos State Deputy Governor and Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, human rights activist and founder, Women Arise. They were joined by the National Information Officer of the United Nations Information Center, Dr. Oluseyi Shoremekun.