Equality between women and men and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women are fundamental human rights. They are universal and enshrined in international law. Despite that, women continue being beaten, exploited, raped, mutilated or forced to marry. They are also being killed only because they are women or girls.
"We say once again, violence must stop now" the EU stresses in a statement on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and reassures that "the EU will continue to work tirelessly through all instruments at its disposal to eliminate violence against women and girls, making it a thing of the past."
In Europe, one in three women is a victim of violence. They are often afraid to contact the authorities. The EU is working to reduce this awful phenomenon both within the EU and externally. The EU-UN “Spotlight Initiative” focuses on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. It was launched during the UN General Assembly in New York last September, with an initial investment of € 500 million, the EU being the main contributor.
In her remarks at the launch of this Initiative, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said that “Violence against women is very often rooted in ancient prejudices and attitudes," and stressed that “women need to tell other women that it is right to speak up and that abuse is never, never their fault. Men have a big responsibility to carry. This is courage, this is strength. And we, mothers and fathers, need to tell our daughters that they can be anything they want in life, and we have to tell our sons that protecting and enforcing – that very basic truth - is their duty and responsibility"
Things have begun to change, all around the world. In South Asia, the percentage of girls married under the age of fifteen went down by half.
The EU has also been working with many African partners to end female genital mutilation. Even though the practice has not stopped yet, thousands of communities are abandoning it and publicly renouncing this horrible practice.
"Attitudes and mind-sets are not eternal", says Federica Mogherini. "In an era when the internet has reached all corners of the world, public discourse is also evolving at an impressive speed. We have seen it with one of the communication campaigns in four African countries, with men standing up for women's rights under the slogan ‘Touche pas à ma soeur’ (Don’t touch my sister)"
Another campaign that has spread virally across social media is the #MeToo two-word hashtag used in October 2017 to denounce sexual assault and harassment. Prompted by sexual abuse allegations against American film producer Harvey Weinstein, millions of women around the world have been sharing their experiences of harassment and abuse on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #MeToo.
Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls campaign is the United Nations UNiTE’s theme for 2017. This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women will kick off UNiTE’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, aimed to raise public awareness and mobilize people everywhere to bring about change. Those 16 days go from 25th November to 10th December, which is Human Rights Day. This theme reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, reaching first the most underserved and marginalized, including refugees, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters, amongst others. As in previous years, the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign invites you to “Orange the world,” using the colour orange designated by the UNiTE campaign as a symbol of a brighter future without violence.