Video Message by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
November 25, 2020
We’ve seen the close connection between [the] COVID-19 pandemic and the further rise of all kinds of violence against women and girls. We called it the Shadow Pandemic.
We’ve also seen two types of response: there is a response for citizens who present with this life-threatening illness, and another response for those who come for help with a life-threatening partner.
We’ve seen all hands on deck for the fight against the pandemic, with incredible compassion and selfless service by health workers, ordinary people, governments providing changes overnight, shutting borders, massive fiscal injection, industry breakthroughs, and protection protocols backed by determination. We need a comparable amount of determination and effort to be given to the global fight to end violence against women and girls so that we can see results and flatten the curve of this destructive Shadow Pandemic.
Like health workers, workers of the justice system such as judges, prosecutors, police, social workers, and leaders, need to step it up.
Last year alone, 243 million women and girls experienced sexual or physical violence from their partner. Reports on the increased domestic violence, heightened cyberbullying, more child marriages, more female genital mutilation, more trafficking, more sexual harassment and sexual violence, are part of the effects of the pandemic on women and girls, for which we need a consistent, holistic approach across all sectors, with civil society as a key partner, fully and flexibly funded to add to the work of partners such as the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative.
Every country’s fiscal stimulus package should include provisions for ending violence against women, and for well-resourced social services, including sexual and reproductive health provisions that support survivors and enable recovery.
Women must have full access to justice. Prosecutions must be effective, and prevention measures be in place with data to monitor progress and help us to hold ourselves accountable, and also hold authorities accountable.
Equally important are the cultural changes to shift the stereotypes and attitudes that shame survivors and normalize and excuses for perpetrators. And we must engage allies in this situation, and that includes men and boys.
The economics of violence against women are devastating. No one gains. Everyone loses, and we have to turn this around. We know what it takes to fight a pandemic. Now we need the will to do it, and with Generation Equality and its Action Coalitions, which include an Action Coalition to end violence against women, we will lead the way to a world without violence.