Africa: The UN Secretary-General's Message On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

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Every woman and every girl has the right to a life free of violence. Yet this rupture of human rights occurs in a variety of ways in every community, particularly affecting those who are most marginalized and vulnerable. Around the world, more than 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lives; 750 million women were married before age 18, and more than 250 million have undergone Female Genital Mutilation.

Women's rights activists are being targeted at alarming levels, and violence against women politicians impedes progress on women's civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights.

It is now widely recognized that violence against women, including harassment and harmful practices, are major barriers to the fulfilment of human rights, and a direct challenge to women's inclusion and participation in sustaining peace. Without tackling it, we will never fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It is time to further our collective action to end violence against women and girls for good. That takes all of us working together in our own countries, regions and communities, at the same time, towards the same goal.

The United Nations is addressing violence against women in many ways, including the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against women; the 'Spotlight Initiative' with the European Union to connect our efforts with those of national governments and civil society; and the UN Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Initiative.

In addition, my zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment in the United Nations is part of the Strategy on Gender Parity that was launched in September. We have also committed to continuing the 'UNiTE to End Violence against Women' Campaign, under the new title 'UNiTE by 2030'.

It is time for united action from all of us, so that women and girls around the world can live free from harassment, harmful practices, and all other forms of violence.

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