The scourge of violence against women has worsened as a result of the global financial downturn over the past year, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today as she urged some of the world’s richest countries to lead the way in turning the many international pledges to support women and girls into concrete results.
In a keynote address in Rome to a ministerial-level conference on violence against women, being held under the auspices of the Italian presidency of the Group of Eight (G8), Ms. Migiro said there is evidence that women and girls are exposed to a greater risk of violence during times of hardship.
“We have seen rising levels of despair and frustration in families and communities around the world, exacerbating violence against women,” she said.
“In a recent survey of more than 630 domestic violence shelters in the United States, 75 per cent reported an increase in women seeking help for abuse since September 2008, coinciding with a major downturn in the US economy. We must remain especially vigilant through these tough times.”
Ms. Migiro detailed to the conference some of the steps taken by the UN to end violence against women and girls, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE campaign, which calls on world leaders to launch national campaigns aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.
She noted that the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, which is nearing the thirtieth anniversary of its adoption, and several landmark Security Council resolutions on women, peace and security indicated that the international community has taken “significant” steps towards protecting women from violence.
However, “we still have a long road to walk before the full meaning of these international agreements is fully transformed from words on paper to reality on the ground.”
Ms. Migiro urged participants at today’s conference to put into practice two earlier recommendations calling on G8 members to enhance the rights of women.
The first calls on G8 members to back programmes that promote women’s rights and make information about sexual and reproductive health widely accessible, while the second calls for support for peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations worldwide so as to emphasize security, the protection of civilians and action against sexual and gender-based violence.
“Ending violence against women will not be easy. It will require sustained dedication and collaboration,” she said.
While in Rome Ms. Migiro is scheduled to meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican and to hold bilateral discussions with Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and its Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna.
She is also expected to meet with staff from the UN’s Rome-based agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).