New York, US - UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, on Friday called for scaled-up efforts globally to stop violence against women, calling it a weapon of war in much of the world and a major obstacle to equality and development.
“Let’s mark International Women’s Day this year not only by recognizing the devastating impact of violence against women, but by renewing our collective efforts to stop it once and for all,” she said in a statement made available to PANA in New York.
The theme for the International Women’s Day 2013 is: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women.”
It comes in the wake of a brutal, highly publicized gang-rape in Asia that focused unprecedented global attention on gender-based violence and sparked an international outcry.
The statement quoted Ms. Clark as saying that, “it is now time for increased action to end this abuse. In 1995, at the Fourth World Conference for Women, governments identified violence against women as a violation of human rights and an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development, and peace”.
“But, the persistent prevalence of violence against women experienced by up to seven in 10 women at some point in their lifetime shows that promises to end violence against women have not been met,” she said.
She also called for concerted efforts that bring together government, civil society, law enforcement and judicial systems to fight violence against women.
According to her: 'Preventing and eliminating violence against women will require leadership and political will backed by action and resources, including the adoption and enforcement of national laws addressing and punishing all forms of violence against women and girls”.
“This fight is not just an important end in itself,” Ms. Clark said.
“Gender-based violence is a means by which inequalities between men and women are perpetuated throughout the world. As such, it is essential to address if we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and accelerate development progress more broadly,” she concluded.
According to UNDP, currently, in more than 35 countries marital rape is not considered a criminal offence and more than 630 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not yet considered a crime.
Meanwhile, the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador and famed Spanish actor Antonio Banderas released a video statement on Friday, in which he enlists men as necessary foot soldiers in the growing movement to end violence and sexual abuse against women and girls, including trafficking, female genital mutilation and child marriage.
“Up to 60 percent of women around the world experience some form of physical or sexual abuse during their life and as many as half of all sexual assault are against girls under the age of 16,” Banderas said in his video statement.
“This is unacceptable and it has to stop now. Real men don’t hit women,” he added.