A week of speaking out about violence against women
One in every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime, according to United Nations statistics. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on 25 November, serves as a reminder of the pandemic proportions of this problem and the terrible consequences for individual health and well-being, as well as social and economic development .
To mark the occasion this year, UNESCO is hosting a diverse line-up of events starting from 22 November, including conferences, exhibitions, roundtables and a film screening, that underscore the myriad forms of violence against women in UNESCO’s fields of action, and highlight efforts underway in different regions of the world to prevent it.
“Violence against women is a violation of the rights and fundamental freedoms of women,” says Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director General. “It is unacceptable in any of the forms it takes – and there are many. UNESCO is committed to protecting and promoting the rights and freedoms of women. One way of doing this is to ensure women’s full and equal participation in development and in peace-building processes, at all levels.”
UNESCO’s programme for the week starts with a conference and film screening, Voices on the Rise: Afghan Women Making the News on 22 November (4.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.) that gives insight into the challenges faced by Afghan women journalists. This event will be attended by Humaira Habib, founder and director of Afghan radio Sahar, Afghanistan’s first women’s radio station; Horia Mosadiq, a prominent Afghan researcher; Khorshied Samad and Jane McElhone, curators of the exhibition of the same name that will open on 23 November in Salles des Pas Perdus at UNESCO’s headquarters.
Women and girls living in countries blighted by armed conflict run the risk of being raped while collecting water, according to a report by the NGO Earthscan for the UN Millennium Project. The fear of sexual violence, in turn, perpetuates the gender imbalance in school enrollment, as families fear the safety of their girl children. A conference, entitled Women, Water and Sustainable Development in Africa, will address these issues on 25 November (9.00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.). The conference, organised by UNESCO and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, will be attended by Antoinette Sassou Nguesso, the First Lady of the Republic of Congo, and opened by Saniye Gülser Corat, UNESCO’s Director of the Division for Gender Equality and representative of the Director-General at this event.
UNESCO events to commemorate this day started on 28 October 2010 with the Conference “Under the Wings of the Butterflies”, organized jointly with the Permanent Delegation of the Dominican Republic on the life of the three Mirabal sisters – political activists in the Dominican Republic who were brutally assassinated on orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961) and in whose honor the Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was established by the UN General Assembly in 1999.