9 May 2013

United Nations approves a global plan to end gender-based violence

The United Nations has approved a global plan for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.  The plan was approved in the two-week 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York held in March 2013.

‘Violence against women is a heinous human rights violation, global menace, a public health threat and a moral outrage’, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.  ‘No matter where she lives, no matter what her culture, no matter what her society, every woman and girl is entitled to live free of fear.  She has the universal human right to be free from all forms of violence so as to fulfil her full potential and dreams for the future’.

The Secretary-General hopes that all the partners who came together at this historic session and others around the world will now translate this agreement into concrete action to prevent and end violence against women and girls, a spokesperson added.

More than 130 Member States agreed the plan after days of debate which exposed real tensions around issues such as the role of men and women in marriage, abortion and gay rights.

Thousands of representatives of governments, inter-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and UN partners collaborated on the outcome document during the Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

The 17-page ‘Agreed Conclusions’ of the Commission “condemns in the strongest terms the pervasive violence against women and girls, and calls for increased attention and accelerated action for prevention and response,” said the statement issued by the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), which provides the administration for the Commission.

UN Women said it welcomed the important focus on prevention in the document, particularly through education and awareness-raising, as well as an emphasis on addressing gender inequalities in the political, economic and social spheres.

Among the priorities in the document is the establishment of multi-sectoral services for survivors of violence, including for health, psychological support and counselling, as well as the need to protect the right to sexual and reproductive health.

UN Women’s Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet said she was “particularly heartened” that an agreement was reached now given that in 2003, when the Commission took up the topic of violence against women, participants could not agree on a plan.

“We will keep moving forward to the day when women and girls can live free of fear, violence and discrimination. The 21st century is the century of inclusion and women’s full and equal rights and participation,” added Ms. Bachelet.

Ms Bachelet’s resignation from the post of Executive Director of UN-Women was announced at the end of the meeting of the Commission.  Ban Ki-moon commented: ‘Michelle Bachelet was the right person in the right job at the right time.  Her visionary leadership gave UN-Women the dynamic start it needed.  Her fearlessness in advocating for women’s rights raised the global profile of this key issue.  Her drive and compassion enabled her to mobilize and make a difference for millions of people across the world.’

Michelle Bachelet is well known to social workers in her home country of Chile and around the world.  As a Paediatrician, she has always had an interest in social issues and spoke at the IASSW global conference in Santiago in 2004??  She generously hosted a meeting of the Chilean Association including IFSW and IASSW leaders during the regional conference in 2009 and sent a video message to the 2012 world conference in Stockholm.

UN commission on women ends with adoption of global plan to end gender-based violence – UN press release

Secretary-General Praises ‘Visionary’ Leadership of Michelle Bachelet – UN statement

Washington Post report – UN body agrees on women’s rights policy skirting sexual politics