The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1999, on 25 November, and called upon Governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations to organize activities every year to promote a culture that rejects, traps and combats violence against women and girls by all means.
Although the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to devote this day was made in 1999, the commemoration of this occasion dates back to the 1980s. The story of the selection of the 25th of November dates back to an unfortunate incident in 1960 in the Dominican Republic, where three sisters were assassinated. The assassination of the Mirabal sisterswas brutally ordered by Dominican autocrat back then Rafael Trujillo. They were active politicians in opposing his regime and their death constituted the backstop of his regime.
What is most disturbing about the phenomenon of violence against women is that it is transnational: war or peace, poverty or wealth, education or ignorance, and reports and statistics indicate frightening ratios about this phenomenon and, as the Secretary-General of the United Nations pointed out today, 70% of the world's women are subjected to some form of violence at some point in their lives! Is it women's destiny to face violence wherever and wherever they are?
Violence against women can and must be reduced by adopting strong strategies to combat it, the most important of which is to eliminate from local and global cultures factors that fuel this phenomenon, including national laws, legislation, customs, local beliefs and educational curricula. Alterations that attempt to generalize religions and beliefs in favour of a culture that allows violence against women must also be combated. As well as information that stereotypes and confines women to certain images and roles tempts violence against them. Local civil society organizations bear the brunt of highlighting the right priorities for action in relation to this phenomenon.
Violence can come in different, and multiple forms. In some countries of the world, female genital mutilation continues to be practised under cover of legal, religious and cultural protection, in other communities, underage girls continue to marry with the blessing of the elders of religion, society and the law, also in other countries, rape is a weapon of war, and it goes without saying that all these acts constitute violence against women and girls, although the images and levels vary.
At the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, we appeal to all individuals and institutions, national, regional and international, to do more to eradicate this phenomenon and to allocate more revenue to combat it.
Every year, a campaign known as the 16 Days Campaign to Eliminate Violence against Women and Girls is launched until 10 December, International Human Rights Day, and the idea seems to want to say that the culmination of action to eliminate violence against women is related to the sovereignty of all human rights. The activities carried out during this campaign vary in order to analyse and spread awareness about the causes, types and consequences of violence against women from all social, economic, political and cultural angles.
We at the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, on this occasion, renew our promise by making the utmost efforts to disseminate a culture of human rights and the rights of women and girls in particular, and pledge to devote a significant part of our activities to this important topic.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on this occasion:
"This discrimination, violence and abuse targeting half of humanity comes at a steep cost. It limits women’s and girls’ participation in all walks of life, denies their basic rights and freedoms, and blocks the equal economic recovery and sustainable growth our world needs".
On this day, we cannot fail to be inspired by the slogan of the United Nations Secretary-General's campaign "UNiTE to End Violence against Women and Girls". We call on everyone to join forces and coordinate efforts to ensure that our women and girls enjoy a world free of violence. May every year, every day and every minute, all women and girls be in peace and security.