Conflict Prevention, Peace building and Mediation

Opening remarks by Ambassador Skoog: High-Level Side Event of the Group of Friends for the elimination of violence against women and girls

New York, 15/03/2021 - 16:10, UNIQUE ID: 210315_18
Speeches of the Ambassador

15 March 2021, New York - Opening remarks by H.E. Mr Olof Skoog, Ambassador, Head of the EU Delegation and Chair of the Group of Friends, at the High-Level Side Event of the Group of Friends for the elimination of violence against women and girls: COVID-19 and violence against women and girls: what has the international community done to address the shadow pandemic?

Ambassador Olof Skoog on the elimination of violence against women and girls

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Ladies and gentlemen,


Welcome to the first high level side event of the UN Group of Friends for the elimination of violence against women and girls.


It is a pleasure to see so many of you join us on the opening day of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.


We are honoured to have with us Kersti Kaljulaid President of Estonia, Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister of Niger, and Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships. I would also like to warmly welcome Josina Machel, Founder of the Kuhluka Movement, Geetanjali Misra, Co-Founder and Executive Director of CREA, and Ixchel Lucas, youth leader from Las Niñas Lideran. We look forward to listening to you all in a moment.


Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive human rights violations. The numbers are appalling everywhere. 1 in 3 women will experience sexual or physical violence in her lifetime. Data emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how violence against women and girls, in particular domestic violence, has intensified. This is a global issue. It concerns all our countries and all spheres of society. It therefore requires a global response.


Nearly a year ago, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, issued an appeal for peace at home. 146 Member States responded to this appeal by committing to make prevention and redress of gender-based violence a key part of their COVID-19 response. The UN Secretary General will join us in a moment via recorded message to share his assessment of global efforts in this regard.


The Group of Friends was created in December of last year to ensure follow-up to the Secretary-General’s appeal and improve coordination at the UN.   We are now 92 members. I would like to take this opportunity to warmly welcome the US, our latest member, who is officially joining the group today.


I also express our gratitude to Argentina, Turkey, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia and New Zealand, who are playing a key role as part of the Group’s steering committee.


Together, we represent one of the largest and most representative Groups of Friends at the UN. As we prepare to “build back better and more equal”, we have the capacity and political will to galvanise efforts to put an end to violence against women and girls, in all settings. We hope that today’s discussion will provide us with key points to advance our actions in the context of COVID-19 and beyond.

As a co-leader of the Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence, the EU looks forward to the convening of the Generation Equality Forum later this month in Mexico and in June in Paris to adopt a set of concrete, ambitious, and transformative commitments for gender equality.

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