As we look back on the past year, we recall shocking atrocities and crimes committed against women that sparked global outrage and made international news headlines.
A young woman was gang-raped and bashed to death on a bus. Another committed suicide from the shame of a crime that was committed against her, while nearby, another girl was shot in the head on the way home from school, simply because she was seeking an education.
But, as we look back on these crimes, the United Nations is urging us to convert our outrage into action and ask ourselves how we can create a better future for women across the globe.
“Enough is enough,” says UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, in a message of both outrage and hope that discrimination and violence against women must end.
“Gender equality most become a lived reality”, she added, stressing that discrimination and violence against women and girls have no place in the 21st century.
Bachelet reminded us that, while these atrocities may not have happened in our backyard, they are a part of a much larger problem that pervades every society and is one of the greatest challenges of our times.
Pointing out that a threat to women anywhere is a threat to women everywhere.
Violence against women can take on many forms, affecting girls and women of all ages, cultural and religious backgrounds; from domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence to harmful traditional practices and violence committed during times of war and armed conflict.
According to the UN, this fundamental violation of women’s right remains widespread.
Let’s consider the facts:
– One in four women worldwide are sexually or physically assaulted while pregnant.
– 60 million girls are forced into marriages before they age of 18.
– A woman is assaulted every 15 seconds in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
– More than half of all women in Papua New Guinea have been beaten by their husbands, including close to 100% in the Highlands.
– More than 30 per cent of women in the Solomon Islands reported being sexually abused before the age of 15. (Women and girls in the Pacific experience some of the highest levels of violence in the world.)
– One Australian woman is killed every week by a male partner, or ex-partner.
– One in every three New Zealand women will be a victim of psychological or physical abuse in their lifetime.
For these reasons, UN Women launched a critical services initiative in 2011 with the aim of providing universal access to a range of emergency and care services to all girls and women who are subjected to acts of violence.
The initiative hopes to raise funds to enable nations everywhere to respond to violence against women, by providing them with immediate, free and universal access to key services, educating women about the services available, and documenting regional mapping of key services.
UN Women will also be launching a song One Woman: A song for UN Women, a musical celebration of women worldwide, featuring 25 artists from 20 countries across the globe. The track will be globally available for purchase and download via http://song.unwomen.org, with all common channels like iTunes and Amazon for $0.99. All proceeds go directly to UN Women in support of its programs to empower women on the ground.
To find out how you can help or to make a donation, visit www.unwomen.org
Facts and statistics have been obtained from the UN Women National Committee Australia and Women’s Refuge New Zealand.