Women Have the Right to ‘Freedom from Fear’, say UN Officials

Dec 9, 2017

Women dancing in Bogota, Colombia during an event on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, 25 November 2016. Photo: UNDP/Freya Morales

Senior UN officials are calling for an end to violence against women and an end to impunity for sexual abuse.

“Today, we, the executive heads of UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women together call for the elimination of violence against women and girls, and the guarantee of all rights, including reproductive rights, for all women everywhere,” said Natalia Kanem Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka Executive Director of UN Women, and Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP on the eve of Human Rights Day.

“The rising movement by both women and men to end impunity for sexual abuse and build understanding of its enduring consequences has shown us how with awareness comes the determination for change. And with unity of purpose comes the strength to accomplish it.”

This call comes amid a growing global movement of solidarity to end harassment and violence against women and other vulnerable individuals.  Millions have joined this movement on social media under the hashtags #MeToo, #BalanceTonPorc, #YoTambien, #Ana_kaman, among others.

“Human beings are born free and equal, both in rights and in dignity. This is the fundamental principle enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  On this Human Rights Day, the last day in the global campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we repeat the deep connections between freedom from fear, freedom from want and ending gender-based violence, and we say: It is time to turn the tide of violence against women and end it.”

Worldwide, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence—most often by an intimate partner. Nearly 750 million women and girls alive today were married before their 18th birthday, and over 200 million have suffered female genital mutilation. More than 70 per cent of all trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 trafficked women and girls are sexually exploited.  

On 10 December nearly 70 years ago, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first international assertion of the “highest aspiration of the common people”, including the “promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms”, and “… a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want”.

Read the full statement here.

For more information:

UNDP: Christina LoNigro, +1 212 906 5301, christina.lonigro@undp.org
UNFPA: Omar Gharzeddine: Tel.: + 1 212 297 5028, gharzeddine@unfpa.org
UN Women: Oisika Chakrabarti, +1 646 781 4522, oisika.chakrabarti@unwomen.org

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