April 19, 2024


By: Mariah Abdelaziz


Photo: UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the world leaders at the 76th UNGA meet. Source: https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/un-chief-guterres-says-violence-against-women-is-not-inevitable-urges-for-policy-change.html

At the Center Stage:

UN Chief Guterres said that long-term initiatives to tackle the core causes of violence are required which also include protection of the right of women.

“Change is possible. Now is the time to redouble our efforts so that together, we can eliminate violence against women and girls by 2030,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his message on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls.


Photo: In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, school girls organize a march against gender violence. Source: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/11/1106482


Decoding detail:

During a virtual event commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls on November 25, 2021, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged for policy changes to end violence against women and girls. As per a UN report, the UN chief has said that “violence against women is not inevitable”, adding that with correct policies and initiatives, appropriate results can be obtained.

Guterres went on to say that, long-term initiatives are required to address and tackle the core causes of violence against women and girls. In addition, strategies are needed for promoting strong and independent women’s rights movements. According to the UN report, the United Nations has created an approach with the cooperation of the European Union in establishing the Spotlight Initiative.

Furthermore, since last year, amid the restrictions during the pandemic, the UN’s partner nations saw a rise of 22% in prosecuting criminals. Further, nearly 84 laws and regulations were introduced or revised to fight against violence and provide safety to women along with over 650,000 women and girls receiving gender-based violence (GBV) services.


Photo: Community focal points attend a training session on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in Juba, South Sudan. Source: UNICEF/Albert Gonzalez Farran https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/11/1106482


‘Conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity are exacerbating violence against women”

In addition to this, during the virtual event, UN Women chief Sima Bahous has described violence against women as “a global crisis”. As per UN Women, almost 70% of women have encountered GBV in a crisis. Bahous said, “In all of our own neighbourhoods, there are women and girls living in danger. Around the world, conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity, and human rights violations are exacerbating violence against women.”



Bahous further added that these forms of abuse frequently go unreported or suppressed by stigma, humiliation, fear of the offenders, as well as distrust of a legal system that does not function for women. According to the United Nations, 137 women are slain or murdered every day by family members.

General Assembly President, Abdulla Shahid, said that one characteristic of gender-based violence is that it knows no social or economic boundaries and affects women and girls of all socio-economic backgrounds.

“This issue needs to be addressed in both developing and developed countries”, he argued.



Since the beginning of the pandemic, feelings of safety have also been eroding among women, significantly affecting their mental and emotional well-being, according to a new report released by UN Women.

Sima Bahous also revealed that during the COVID-19 lockdowns, several domestic violence cases have gone hidden. She noted that a significant number of complaints of violence against women and girls (VAWG) were received through helpline numbers from all around the world.

In spite of this, Bahous has expressed optimism and stated that fresh opportunities are emerging. The Generation Equality Forum created the Action Coalition on Gender-based Violence last summer as part of a $40 billion commitment to the world’s women and girls. Its goal is to generate joint action, motivate investment, and produce meaningful outcomes.

“It is both an abhorrent crime and a public health emergency, with far-reaching consequences for millions of women and girls in every corner of the globe. The latest figures from UN Women confirm that during the Covid-19 pandemic, levels of violence against women and girls have increased,” Guterres said.

He added that across 13 countries, almost half of all women reported that they or a woman they know began to experience gender-based violence during the pandemic. Almost a quarter of women reported that household conflicts had become more frequent. A similar proportion said they felt less safe at home, said a press release.



Violence against women and girls continues to be the most pervasive and pressing human rights issue in the world today, but change is possible, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.

“The right policies and programmes bring results”, are including long-term strategies that tackle the root causes of violence, protect the rights of women and girls, and promote strong and autonomous women’s rights movements.

The UN has built this model through its partnership with the European Union in the Spotlight Initiative. Partner countries last year witnessed a 22 per cent increase in prosecution of perpetrators; 84 laws and policies were passed or strengthened; and more than 650,000 women and girls were able to access GBV services – despite pandemic-related restrictions.

“Change is possible. Now is the time to redouble our efforts so that together, we can eliminate violence against women and girls by 2030,” Guterres remarked.



UN News, (November 24, 2021), “On International Day, UN chief says ‘violence against women is not inevitable”. Retrieved from: https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/11/1106482

The Business Standard (TBS), (November 25, 2021), “Change is possible: UN chief on violence against women and girls”. Retrieved from: https://www.tbsnews.net/world/change-possible-un-chief-violence-against-women-and-girls-334702