UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr. Joan Clos last week in New York joined other heads of United Nations system organisations and bodies in signing a joint statement on "Ending Violence against Women and Girls".
Dr. Clos with the Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet © UN-Women
The signatories expressed their deep concern that violence against women and girls continues to be one of the most pervasive violations of human rights. Beyond the impact on individuals, they noted, violence against women and girls has severe consequences on families, communities and societies, and results in significant economic and social costs for countries. They added that it was an impediment to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and other national and all internationally agreed development goals.
Among those who signed the statement were Michelle Bachelet, ED of UN Women, Helen Clark, Administrator UNDP, Irina Bokova, Director General UNESCO, Anthony Lake, Executive Director UNICEF, Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, amongst others.
"It is widely acknowledged that wwhether walking city streets, using public transport, going to school, or selling goods at the market, women and girls are subject to the threat of sexual harassment and violence. This reality of daily life limits their freedom to get an education, to work, to participate in social life – or to simply enjoy their own neighbourhoods. Women and girl's safety and the 'right to the city' are inextricably linked. Their lack of safety is a serious obstacle to achieving gender equality, sustainable urban development and the achievement of the MDG's," the chiefs noted.
"To end violence against women and girls we must engage men and boys to change attitudes and beliefs that condone violence. We must also promote women and girl's participation in decision-making in order to create an enabling environment for women and girls to live free of violence. Legal and policy frameworks must be implemented, prevention measures developed, services and responses established and the evidence base to inform policies and programmes strengthened," they stressed
The heads called upon all governments to honour their obligations to end violence against women and girls. They strongly recommended that the eradication of violence against women and girls be prioritized at national, regional and international levels.
"Achieving gender equality, including through the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, must be a central component of the post-2015 development agenda. The UN system stands ready to work in partnership and do its part for a just world where all women and girls live free of fear and violence," they concluded.