Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women,
Wendy Morton, Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas at the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office,
My WHO colleague, Dr Claudia García-Moreno and Lynnmarie Sardinha,
Dear colleagues and friends,
Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, and thank you for joining us for the launch of this very important report.
As you know, yesterday was International Women’s Day.
At our regular press briefing, we celebrated the incredible contribution that so many women are making to the fight against COVID-19, in so many ways.
But we also noted that one of the consequences of the social restrictions put in place to suppress transmission of COVID-19 has been an increase in violence against women.
Today, WHO is launching a new report that represents the largest study ever conducted on the prevalence of violence against women.
I would like to thank UN Women for their partnership through our joint programme to improve data globally on violence against women, and I would also like to thank the United Kingdom for the funding it provides for this work.
The report includes data from 158 countries on intimate partner violence and sexual violence by a non-partner, for women and girls aged 15 years and older.
The results paint a horrifying picture.
An estimated 736 million women – almost one in three women globally – have suffered intimate partner violence, sexual violence from a non-partner, or both, at least once in their lives.
And almost one in four adolescent girls in a partnership have experienced physical and-or sexual violence from a partner or husband before their 19th birthday.
Globally, women in low- and lower-middle income countries suffer disproportionately from violence, especially in Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Violence against women is not just criminal, it has long-lasting implications for the physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health of women.
Injuries, depression, anxiety, unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections – including HIV – are just some of the health issues that survivors of violence must live with.
The harm done to individual women is bad enough. But the impacts go further, tearing the very fabric of families, communities, economies and nations. We all lose.
This is an old problem, but we can change it. We know what works.
We can prevent violence with legal tools, by reforming discriminatory laws;
We can prevent it with economic tools, by strengthening women’s economic rights and wages;
We can prevent it with educational tools, through school programmes that challenge gender stereotypes, promote healthy relationships and provide comprehensive sexuality education;
We can prevent it with social tools, by challenging social norms that support harmful views of masculinity and condone violence against women;
And we can use clinical tools to provide quality care and support for women affected by violence.
But the most powerful tool we have is ourselves. All of us can make a difference, women and men.
We can all speak up to say that violence against women is never acceptable.
We can all teach our kids that violence against women is never acceptable.
And we can all treat the women in our lives with the respect and dignity they deserve – and that all people deserve.
I thank you.