By ringing orange bells in Zhena Borec Park (Women Fighter Park) in Skopje, North Macedonia joined the global campaign '16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence'. The EU joined the government and the capital authorities, as well as the UN and OSCE in the country, to express support for eradicating an alarming problem that is still too common and adopts many different forms in all societies.
One in three women in Europe has experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Nearly all victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation within the EU are women and girls. In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching the age of 18. There are at least 200 million women and girls who have undergone female genital mutilation, which is still performed in around 30 countries. Building on the global momentum created by recent movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore or #BalanceTonPorc, this year’s UN campaign focuses on rape and the 'rape culture' that normalises sexual violence with devastating effects for the victims.
At the Skopje event, Ambassador Samuel Žbogar described as upsetting the fact that violence against women still goes largely unreported globally. 'I congratulate North Macedonia on the work it has done following ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Three new crisis centres for victims of sexual violence were established in Skopje, Tetovo and Kumanovo. The EU is funding a regional initiative to combat gender-based violence. We will continue to work with the government to improve the work of police, medical and social services. Women need this confidence to report violence', said Žbogar.
High Representative Federica Mogherini recently reflected on the link between gender-based violence and stable and peaceful societies at an international forum in Japan. 'Violence against women includes many different forms: from economic injustice to social disparities, from lack of fair healthcare as well as physical, mental, and emotional violence against mainly women and girls. When a society is not just, then there can be no sustainable peace either', said Mogherini.
In the next 16 days, right up to the Human Rights Day on 10 December, more than 6,000 organisations in 187 countries will push together to mobilise women to collectively take action in advancing the ratification and implementation of two newly adopted International Labour Organisation´s documents that sanction violence and harassment at work.