International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

UN Women - Photo:UN Women
Illustration: UN Women

November 25th marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. As one of the most detrimental and frequent human rights violations worldwide, violence against women severely restricts the freedom and security of women in all societies. Marking the day internationally helps to spread awareness of the issue of gender violence.

According to the UN, 1 in 3 women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. The act of abuse is most frequently carried out by an intimate partner, and includes physical, sexual and psychological abuse. However, due to the stigma and shame surrounding the issue, violations most often go unreported.

Because gender violence often occurs behind closed doors, a greater degree of awareness of the cause and effect of violent abuse is key in order to eradicate the issue. In the OSCE, the participating states gathered earlier this year at the meeting “Countering Violence against Women – Everyone’s Responsibility”, organised by the Italian Chairmanship. Participants emphasized the need for female empowerment and strengthened law enforcement in order to combat the violations. They also acknowledged that different women experience gender violence in varying ways. It is necessary to adopt an approach that takes into consideration the complex and diverse experience of inequality and discrimination experienced by women.

Not only does violence against women cause serious mental and physical harm to its victims. It also prevents half of the world’s population to fulfil their economic potential and pursue independent means to support their own livelihood. According to the UN, research estimates that the cost of violence against women amounts to 2% of the world’s total GDP. This underlines the extent to which human rights violations damage the socio-economic opportunities for women and negatively affects our societies on a global scale.

As one of Norway’s key priorities within the OSCE, promoting gender equality is key to eradicate violence against women. The abolishment of systematic discrimination in the social and institutional structures of society is the only way that women and men can experience the same rights and opportunities. Norway believes that the elimination of violence against all women and girls cannot be achieved without dedicated and comprehensive political and judicial efforts, in addition to targeted prevention programs to change public attitude.