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In Focus: 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign is marking the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence (25 November to 10 December 2020) under the global theme, Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!". UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign is amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the COVID-19 crisis, focus on prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls. The campaign is part of UN Women’s efforts for Beijing+25 and building up to launch bold new actions and commitments to end violence against women at the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico and France in 2021.

This year is like no other. Even before COVID-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions. Globally, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year. Meanwhile, less than 40 per cent of women who experience violence report it or seek help.

As countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified – in some countries, calls to helplines have increased five-fold. In others, formal reports of domestic violence have decreased as survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. School closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, and more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.

In April 2020, as the pandemic spread across the world, the UN Secretary-General called for “peace at home”, and 146 Member States responded with their strong statement of commitment. In recent months 135 countries have strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women as part of the response to COVID-19. Yet, much more is needed. 

Today, although the voices of activists and survivors have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced or ignored, ending violence against women will require more investment, leadership and action. It cannot be sidelined; it must be part of every country’s national response, especially during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.

Did you know?

1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner.

Emerging data shows an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.

Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.

71% of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited.


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