Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of violence Against Women, 25 November 2011
Violence against women strikes our societies to the heart. This is a brutal violation of the dignity of individuals and an affront to their human rights. It diminishes us all. This International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is an opportunity to join together to end it.
This violence shows no discrimination. It may be physical, sexual, psychological or economic. It can occur during conflict or at a time of peace. It affects women of all ages, origins and social class. It takes in every culture and region across the globe.
The consequences are devastating -- for individuals, communities and societies. This violence affects the health of women. It impacts on their ability to participate fully in social, economic and public life. It reinforces other forms of discrimination and deprivation. It holds societies back from inclusive and sustainable development, and it undermines efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
Governments are acting to eliminate violence against women. The international community has developed conventions and policies that seek to prevent and eliminate it. Despite all of this, levels of violence remain high. This calls for greater mobilization and for sharper action.
UNESCO contributes to this struggle through in-depth research into the fundamental social, cultural and economic causes of this violence. Based on this knowledge, we work with policy-makers to define new strategies for the prevention of violence, and we support women affected by violence to empower them to find strategies of resistance. We also engage boys and men through campaigns of prevention, to alter behaviours and to involve them actively in prevention activities.
Our objective is eventually to no longer have to mark this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Violence against women impoverishes societies as a whole. We must enhance the dignity of every girl and woman and protect the human rights of every member of society. This is a foundation for a more inclusive, sustainable and peaceful 21st century. These are our commitments today.