Violence against women is neither inevitable nor acceptable
By Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed
UN Resident Coordinator – UNDP Resident Representative, 07/03/2013
As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we look back at a year with chocking crimes of violence against women and girls worldwide. We all remember the story of the Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai who was shot on 9 October last year, while returning home on a school bus. In Yemen, some girls are forced to marry when they are still children, sometimes as young as eight years old.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. In Yemen, women and girls are victims of different form of violence. Through a recent survey carried out by UNFPA it appears clearly that harassment in the streets, mainly for women living in the cities, are among the daily aggressions they face and they openly complain about this. Other forms of violence are more hidden, often not well documented and many cases, especially of domestic violence, might never be reported.
Gender-based violence is a global problem and gender-based inequality, exclusion and discrimination are at the heart of gender-based violence. In India, Dalit women experience high rates of sexual violence committed by men of higher caste. Indigenous women in Canada are five times more likely than other women of the same age to die as the result of violence.
Gender-based violence has close links to poverty. Recent studies on the global recession show that economic downturns and increasing poverty can trigger an increase in domestic violence.
All women and girls have a right to live free of violence. Violence against women is neither inevitable nor acceptable; it is a violation of human rights for which states are accountable. Violence against women, which is fueled by gender-based inequality, exclusion and discrimination, is a constraint to sustainable human development.
Men and boys must be part of the solution to end gender-based violence. A review of the evidence from 58 programmes around the world that focus on men and boys in addressing gender-based violence show a decrease in self-reported use of physical, sexual and psychological violence in intimate relationships and increased social support of spouses through shifts in community norms.
On this day, I wish to echo UN Secretary General’s words when he says that “This year on International Women’s Day, we convert our outrage into action. We declare that we will prosecute crimes against women – and never allow women to be subjected to punishments for the abuses they have suffered.”
I wish to say to all Yemenis, especially young people, that the future of Yemen is up to you.
You will determine what kind of future you want and what kind of society you wish for your daughters and sons to grow up in. Change might take time, but step by step, you will find the future you are now developing evolving. During that process, and as part of that future, all Yemenis need to take part. Yemen cannot afford to neglect the capacities, strengths, inputs, ideas, visions and uniqueness of half its population. Women of Yemen’s voice have to be heard.