As you read these words, it is estimated that more than 4.5 million women and girls globally are living in forced sexual exploitation, victims of human trafficking. More than 70 million girls are child brides. A similar number, roughly 60 million girls, have no access to - or are being deliberately excluded from - primary and secondary school. More than 200 million girls and women are estimated to live with the pain and humiliation of genital mutilation. One in three women experience violence from an intimate partner or sexual violence from a stranger in their lifetime. These are our mothers, our sisters and our daughters. We are one family, but across the globe women's access to civic participation, employment and other basic human rights are constricted by normative social structures within which they are subjected to culturally accepted cycles of physical abuse, exploitation and violence.
In Syria alone, five years of fighting and civil unrest has claimed nearly half a million lives and impacted countless more. Across the world, ISIS and their cohorts have butchered, murdered and tortured tens of thousands while raping and enslaving women and girls. This global epidemic of violence has had a particularly brutal effect on women and children; their vulnerability has exposed them not only as secondary victims but primary targets.
In West Africa, Boko Haram, meaning "western education is a sin" in the local language, is by definition an enemy to civilization. This violent group opposes the education of women and girls, and has repeatedly targeted places of learning in deadly attacks.
Our global community faces an enemy that threatens to destroy basic systems of decency, dignity and common values. We demand an end to violence against women and girls. We demand order, stability and a return to a lawful society. Our current trajectory is not sustainable should we desire to live as neighbors and friends in this ever connected world.
We demand a return to a universal respect for basic human rights. When women and girls are subjugated and not treated as equals, as humans deserving of the same treatment as men, society cannot flourish and evolve to its fullest potential.
We demand that our governments and our institutions fulfill their chartered obligations. We call on these same international organizations to create safe zones for their and other's citizens so that the endless tragedy of forced migration ceases. People must be allowed to safely stay in their homes, maintaining their lives and their societies. We cannot sit idly by as observers. If we fail to acknowledge these crimes, to speak out and also to act, we are complicit.
We stand together in this demand. We believe in a culture in which women are valued and honored. We believe in gender equality. We believe violence against women and girls - in any form - is a criminal act. Women's rights are human rights. Silence and inaction are unacceptable as all of our futures are at stake.
We need to end violence against women and girls and we need you, your organization and your adherents to march with us on Sunday March the 12th, 2017 at 11AM at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza located near the United Nations headquarters of New York on 47th street between 1st and 2nd Avenue. The world is waiting; please help us make this change.
For more information about UN Women For Peace Association or to sign up for the 2017 March in March on March 12, 2017 visit: http://www.unwomenforpeace.org