Commonwealth SG’s message on International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women


This year, from International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November until Human Rights Day on 10 December people throughout the world are mobilising to bring about change through 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. A third of women worldwide experience in their lifetime some form of physical or sexual violence. Sadly, this is also the case in the Commonwealth. The oppression and cruelty to which women are subjected includes trafficking, slavery, female genital mutilation or cutting, early and forced marriage, and many other forms of sexual violence. Huge social and economic costs are imposed on our societies because of the persistence of these scourges, and they undermine peace and security. Negative aspects of culture and tradition can be impediments to women achieving protection and justice. Violence against women is a human rights violation, both a cause and a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women. It is also a significant public health issue, having major impact on the survivors, their families, communities and societies. Yet prevention is possible. That is why eliminating violence against women and girls, and eradicating prejudice and discrimination based on gender are imperatives to which Commonwealth countries collectively give high priority. Even though our member states have laws designed specifically to protect the rights of women who are assaulted or abused, decisive implementation of such legislation can prove really difficult. When the leaders of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth met in April this year for the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting they reaffirmed collectively their commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women. They also agreed that all Commonwealth countries should ratify and implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women through legislation, policies and programmes that mainstream and promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in social, economic and political life. Shared sense of purpose, mutual support and collaboration are important factors in making progress towards the elimination of violence against women. So too is cooperation and commitment by people in communities throughout the Commonwealth. Let each and every one of us recommit to action and activism in whatever ways we can – and wherever we live, learn, work or play – so that our homes and workplaces, our schools and colleges, become places of dignity and security where people know they are safe regardless of gender or any other identity. Elimination of Violence against Women is essential, and prevention is our priority.]]>