International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
25th of November 2020
In human history women were often excluded from
various aspects of social, political and public life and
subjected to violence, regardless of their class, race or
ethnicity, due to religious, cultural or social norms and
Despite the marvelous advances seen in society, violence
persists in many societies across the globe. Women
continue to be subjected to various forms of social
injustices that have disastrous consequences on their
health, development and the full enjoyment of their
human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Moreover, due to increasing stigma behind the role of
young girls and women in society and other structural
causes for harmful practices against women, those who
commit such abhorrent violent gender based crimes
are not held to account.
Therefore, in 1993 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (A/RES/48/104) that defines violence against women as : ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life'.
International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women designated by the UN on November 25, provides the opportunity to raise awareness on gender issues and harmful gender biased attittudes and practices, as well as a reminder to the global community to work actively towards eliminating violence against women in all its manifestations, including its physical, psycholgical and sexual forms.
As the world continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to acknowledge issues that have grown as a result of the suppression of certain liberties. The Covid-19 pandemic obliged states to take all the necessary measures to slow down the epidemiological curve of the virus, including enforced lock-downs. Data and reports from those on the front lines showed a terrifying increase in all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, confirming the need for an intensified global and unified response.
On this important day, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights would like to highlight troubling on-going harmful practices occurring in countries of the North African and the Middle East region, including child marriage, denial of girls’ education and the exclusion of women in the public and political sector.
In that regard, the Institute appeals to all states to take a firm stance against violent extremism that continues to impose limits of the mobility, freedom of expression and the realization of other fundamental rights of young girls and women. Furthermore, it is necessary for organizations and activists in the field of women’s rights to intensity efforts in raising gender awareness. Similarly, it is vital for states to eradicate gender-biased practices and the culture of impunity by enforcing strict sanctions for perpetrators of violent acts of crime against women and girls.
Finally, states must prioritize violence against women and ensure that the gender lens is integrated in Covid-19 response and recovery efforts, taking into account key factors that will allow women and girls to equally recover from this global health crisis.
Violence against women, one of the most widespread violations of human rights, impedes societal development and peace, as well as the fulfilement of women and girls human rights. Hence, to ensure sustainable and inclusive growth, the global action to end violence against women and girls must be strengthened and negative cultural and social norms must be challenged.