Women’s Day 2013: A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women

Violence against women is one of the most deadly and widespread violations of women's rights across the world. Globally up to 7 out of 10 women experience some form of physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. Violence against women takes many forms - physical, sexual, economic, psychological - but all of these represent a violation of human dignity and human rights and have lasting consequences both for women themselves and for their communities.


 To empower women and ensure equality, we must challenge every form of violence every time it occurs.     

Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General on International Women’s Day 2013

Violence against women is prevalent in all countries across the globe and cuts across all geographical, cultural, social, ethnic and other barriers. It is rooted in deep seated structures and practices of gender inequality.

UNESCO is working in all domains to prevent violence against women, through research into the fundamental social and cultural causes of violence, development of education programmes for preventing violence in and around schools and universities, engaging men in prevention of violence against women, working with the media for gender sensitive reporting and many other activities. Legislation and policies are not sufficient, we need to ensure fundamental changes in gender roles and behaviours.  


  • Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting is a persistent form of violence against women and girls. An estimated 100-140 million girls and women have suffered from this practice, with three million girls at risk each year in Africa alone. UNESCO is supporting research and capacity building to change behaviours and beliefs and eliminate FGM/C.
  • Violence against women and girls is one of the primary reasons for girls leaving school. The brutal attack against Malala Yousafzai in October 2012 is just one example of this widespread phenomenon. UNESCO is working with governments across the world to support the right of girls and women to quality education under conditions of safety.

"We must educate to shape new norms and behaviours. We must support women in becoming leaders in all fields of human endeavour" expressed UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova.


First celebrated over 100 years ago, International Women’s Day has grown into a global celebration of past struggles and accomplishments of women, and more importantly an opportunity to look ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.  Celebrated by the UN since 1975, this year’s Day is dedicated to the “Action to End Violence Against Women”.  In 1945 the Charter of the United Nations became the first international agreement to affirm the principal of equality between women and men.  UNESCO, in turn, as the lead UN agency for Education, Science and Culture has named gender equality as one of its two global priorities.  


UNESCO EVENTS at the Commission on the Status of Women 2013

EVENTS in Paris

  • Inauguration of the Artistic Exhibitions
    Friday 8 March, 4.30 p.m., Salle des pas perdus
  • Concert "Tribute to Women in Music: from the romantic to the electronics", organized in cooperation with Sveriges Radio and Radio France,
    Friday 8 march, 7.30 p.m., Room I. RSVP

Did you know?

  • 1 in 3 women will experience violence during her lifetime, either through rape, beatings or abuse (UNIFEM, 2003)

  • Three women die each day as a result of domestic violence (National Network to End Domestic Violence)

  • Every day an estimated 10 million children worldwide are exposed to domestic violence (Center for Women and their Families, 2007)

  • The annual health cost of domestic violence in the United States is close to $5.8 billion (US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2003)

  • In Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 200,000 cases of sexual violence have been documented since 1996 (UNICEF, 2009)

  • In 1981 the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) recognised that violence against women was a particularly egregious form of discrimination.

  • The UN General Assembly adopted a Declaration on the Elimination of all forms of Violence against Women in 1993, the first international human rights instrument to exclusively and explicitly address the issue of violence against women.