NEW YORK – Heads of state and ministers from 50 governments made commitments to enact laws and policies that protect and promote the rights of women and girls last week at the 57th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
It has been nearly 20 years since the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted by 189 governments, and over a century after the first International Women’s Day; but according to UN Women Executive Director Michele Bachelet, now is finally the time “to move forward and end these widespread human rights violations” against women.
While legislative frameworks encompass the language needed to resolve these issues on an international level, evidence shows this is not enough to advance real change on ground.
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Globally, violence against women and girls (VAWG) is the leading cause of death among women aged 15-44, ranking first before severe illness, war or obstructed labor, or vehicle accidents. Approximately 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not a crime; 60 million girls are sexually assaulted on their way to school; over 60 million are child brides; and 640,000 are trafficked across borders annually. The alarming figures continue, but are often at odds with reality, when considering the number of unreported assaults from victims.
Last week as CSW got underway and participants observed International Women's Day, human rights activists, inter-governmental bodies, and civil society organizations observed and advocated, along with member states, to respond with due diligence to VAWG.
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Some of these issues recurred throughout the week, and the conversation will continue this week until the commission wraps up on March 15. These are the most pressing issues that have been discussed at the panels, side events and forums in New York.
- Involvement of women in peace-making processes.
- Implementation of existing measures and legislative frameworks.
- Protection of journalists and fact-based media coverage.
- Collection of accurate and comprehensive data on gender violence.
- Implementation of a global initiative to provide critical services for survivors of violence.
- Sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
- Bridging the gulf between civil society, NGOs and governments.
- Harmful traditional or harmful customary practices.
- Intimate partner violence.
- Inclusion of and the responsibility of men and boys in preventing violence.
In celebration of this year's International Women's Day, UN Women also released a song and video reinforcing the agency's call to end violence against women. Featuring 25 singers and musicians from 20 countries, "One Woman" can be viewed on YouTube.
Check back for more from the RIGHTS blog on CSW as the week continues.