Almost one year ago I wrote in this same spot about a rally that UN Women for Peace organized which aimed at Ending Violence Against Women. This week, we are kicking off our seconds "March in March" and for the same cause. Despite local and global efforts to end domestic violence and sexual abuse of women, the pandemic continues to persist all around us, including here in the United States. In conflict zones, the various forms of violence against women are tools of submission and coercion, not to mention humiliation.
So just how many women are physically abused today? Any is too many. This is no longer about the numbers or the statistics. This is about human beings whose human rights are being violated every single day.
Nonetheless, I have reason to be optimistic about a breakthrough, particularly when I see that there is an increasing awareness of the problem at global and local levels. A global legal framework is already in place. Last year, an agreement was reached in the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that provided a blueprint for the way forward. And this past January, at the 44th World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, discussions on women and gender-gap issues gained a lot of traction. Panelists contended that women are critical for inclusive growth and stronger economies. Equally important is empowering women by educating them and instilling laws and policies to ensure equal treatment and deterrence of violence. Indeed, women constitute 51 percent of the world's population, which means they account for half of the world's human resources. Therefore, it is critical to educate them and utilize their full potential.
Another reason for optimism is the growing interest in the corporate sector and within the business community in giving back to women and engaging in social responsibility. However, more resources are needed to develop innovative projects and provide financial support to organizations and advocates of this cause.
Too often gender issues are viewed as mainly women's issues. This perception must change. It is a men's issue as well. Men should be part of any conversation that aims at ending violence against women, closing the gender gap and empowering women. In that context, educating both boys and girls at an early age is essential in addressing the issue of violence against women. Men need to stand up and speak out against this crime.
I acknowledge that a lot of efforts have so far been made, but these are just a scratch at the surface. There is a lot of work yet to be done at the national levels. Governments need to change laws and make sure they are enforced. They need to take ownership and responsibility by implementing the decisions that have been agreed to by the international community.
As we celebrate International Women's Day this weekend, we have to remember to adhere to the moral commitment of fighting back and holding accountable the perpetrators of this massive crime and blatant violation of human rights.
This is an issue that we cannot and should not ignore -- because we are all aware of it.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and UN Women for Peace, in conjunction with International Womens' Day (March 7). UN Women for Peace is hosting a March to End Violence Against Women on that day, in New York. For more information on UN Women for Peace and the event, read here.
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