Policymakers and campaigners are commemorating the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women today, 25 November 2019.
The overarching theme for International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2019 is ‘Orange the world: Generation Equality stands against rape’. In a statement released to mark the occasion, Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “If I could have one wish granted, it might well be a total end to rape. That means a significant weapon of war gone from the arsenal of conflict, the absence of a daily risk assessment for girls and women in public and private spaces, the removal of a violent assertion of power; and a far-reaching shift for our society.”
The United Nations Secretary General’s ‘UNiTE by 2030 to end violence against women’ campaign, which launches today, will run for the next two years; and is focused on preventing sexual violence by developing and enforcing stringent laws against rape, as well as providing institutional support and protection for women who have experiences sexual violence. The Council of Europe, meanwhile, has highlighted the effective success of the Istanbul Convention, which commits its signatories to preventing and addressing violence against women and girls.
Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, France’s European Affairs State Secretary Amélie de Montchalin, speaking on behalf of the Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, and Parliamentary Assembly President Liliane Maury Pasquier said in a joint statement: “On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, our thoughts are with the victims of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence. Far too many women are still dying at the hands of their partner or former partner. And as their lives are destroyed, their families are left to deal with grief and loss. Against this backdrop, we should also take this occasion to highlight the extraordinary success of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
“Five years ago, the treaty entered into force. Today, it has 34 state parties [and] 11 signatory states including the EU. That two non-Member States request accession proves its worldwide appeal… Since its entry into force for an increasing number of states, publicly funded shelters and 24/7 specialised helplines that refer women to counselling services are being set up where none had existed before. Judges, prosecutors and other legal experts are receiving specialised training to improve women’s access to protection and justice. Laws are changing for the better. Rape, for example, is being defined more by lack of consent, rather than by just proof of force. Where such changes have happened, we have seen conviction rates and reporting of violence increasing, as women are less afraid and they trust the authorities more. Such positive indicators are cause for celebration.”
In honour of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 2019, a number of iconic landmarks and buildings – including the European Commission’s Berlaymont building in Brussels – will be lit up in orange this evening to indicate support for survivors of violence against women.