One of the greatest obstacles to women’s participation in the economy, and society in general, is gender-based violence.
Global stability, peace, and prosperity cannot advance without the full participation of women and girls. One of the greatest obstacles to women’s participation in the economy, and society in general, is gender-based violence. It is therefore no surprise that countries that lack strong protections for women and girls are the most unstable and find prosperity more difficult to achieve.
But most importantly, violence against women and girls destroys their safety, their dignity, their freedom.
Speaking at the 57th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Susan Rice noted that in the 20 years since the UN General Assembly adopted a landmark declaration on eliminating violence against women, there has been much progress in the prevention, reduction and condemnation of the abuse of women and girls worldwide.
Domestic violence is now outlawed in 125 countries, and the use of rape as a weapon of war is widely condemned as a most despicable crime. But as Ambassador Rice said, we don’t just need plans and laws. We need implementation, accountability and enforcement.
We need this because the world is still a dangerous place for millions of women around the world. “More than 600 million women and girls still live in countries that have not yet declared domestic violence a crime,” said Ambassador Rice. “Thousands of women and girls caught in conflict zones and post-conflict zones are subjected to rape and horrific abuse daily. And some 60 million girls are assaulted each year while simply trying to get to school.
“Ending this global scourge will require comprehensive support services for survivors, justice for perpetrators, redoubled efforts to prevent assault, and the common recognition that women and girls have fundamental and inalienable rights,” she said.
Under President Obama, the United States has become a world leader in helping to address and prevent gender-based violence. Last August, the United States released its first-ever Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally, accompanied by a Presidential Executive Order directing its implementation.
“Let us never forget that the victims whom we seek to protect are our own mothers and daughters, our sisters and friends, and maybe even ourselves,” said Ambassador Rice.
“The United States looks forward to forging a robust set of [United Nations] Agreed Conclusions that enshrine our common commitment to protecting women and girls from violence and discrimination in all forms. Billions are depending on us. We must not fail.”