New York — The United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro, has attributed the scourge of violence against women to the global financial downturn across the world over the past year, while she urged some of the world's richest countries to lead the way in turning the many international pledges to support women and girls into concrete results.
Migiro said, while addressing the ministerial-level Conference on Violence Against Women, held under the auspices of the Italian presidency of the Group of Eight (G8), that there was an evidence that women and girls are exposed to a greater risk of violence during times of hardship .
"We have seen rising levels of despair and frustration in families and communities around the world, exacerbating violence against women. In a recent survey of more than 630 domestic violence shelters in the United States, 75 per cent reported an increase in women seeking help for abuse since September 2008, coinciding with a major downturn in the US economy. We must remain especially vigilant through these tough times," she said.
In a Press release that was made available to United Nations correspondents, Migiro detailed to the conference some of the steps taken by the U.N. to end violence against women and girls, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's UNITE campaign, which calls on world leaders to launch national campaigns aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.
She noted that the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, which is nearing the 30th anniversary of its adoption, and several landmark Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security, indicated that the international community has taken "significant" steps towards protecting women from violence.
Migiro urged participants at the conference to put into practice two earlier recommendations calling on G8 members to enhance the rights of women.
The first calls on G8 members to back programmes that promote women's rights and make information about sexual and reproductive health widely accessible, while the second calls for support for peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations worldwide so as to emphasize security, the protection of civilians and action against sexual and gender-based violence.
"Ending violence against women will not be easy. It will require sustained dedication and collaboration," she said.