Statement of Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director on the Occasion of International Women's Day
8 March 2013
On the occasion of International Women's Day, I want to take this opportunity to renew the commitment of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, to strengthening and expanding our efforts to do everything we can to bring an end to gender-based violence. Gender-based violence remains a major health and human rights concern and no human development can be achieved as long as women and girls continue to suffer from violence or live in fear of it.
This year's International Women's Day coincides with the ongoing meeting at the United Nations, at New York, of the Commission on the Status of Women, which this year focusses on the priority theme of Addressing Violence against Women.
Globally, millions of women and girls are subjected to all forms of violence, including rape, intimate partner violence, female genital mutilations/cuttings, child marriages and sexual violence in armed conflict and during humanitarian crisis.
Women and girls who are abused may suffer prolonged psychological pain, may be rejected by their families and communities, and may be denied opportunities for health care and economic self-sufficiency. In addition, there are direct physical consequences. Sexual violence can result in unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV—all of which can be fatal. As part of the global community, we have an obligation to ensure that these human rights violations come to an end.
Building on the work of the Commission on the Status of Women, we must come together to find an internationally agreed consensus which will bring us closer to keeping women and girls safe and free from violence or the threat of violence. This is our chance to have a positive impact on the lives of millions. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
Statement of the UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, for Human Rights Day
10 December 2012
Participation Starts at Home: Reproductive Rights are Key to Meaningful Participation
On this Human Rights Day, we come together to celebrate the right to participate in public life in an inclusive way. While this right is clearly recognized in the international human rights framework, the 1986 United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development puts all human beings at the centre of development and emphasizes that participation will only lead to people’s empowerment as long as it is free, active and meaningful. This implies that having a voice is important, but insufficient unless it can be expressed freely and based on relevant, accurate and accessible public information.
Worldwide, women and young people still face multiple forms of discrimination, hindering them from expressing freely their needs and demands to make their own life choices and be in full control of the processes affecting them in the private and public spheres. For that to change, marginalized and excluded women and young people need to be empowered with information, skills and capacities to advocate and live a life of dignity and well-being, particularly concerning their right to sexual and reproductive health.
Knowledge and skills can be acquired in multiple ways: at home, in the school, in community settings, or from various forms of media, including social media. In UNFPA’s work promoting sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, we see how a woman’s ability to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of her children is a fundamental part of her rights and her decision-making process. If a young girl can enjoy her family’s protection from child marriage and get a minimum of secondary education to open opportunities for her to reach her full potential; if a teenage girl is granted access to sexuality information and education to prevent an unintended pregnancy; if she can be free from any form of bullying or discrimination, then, all these women and girls will be more likely to have the skill sets and the positive attitudes to participate actively in their communities and lead their nations one day.
The right to participation is an inalienable right and inherent to people’s lives and aspirations throughout the life cycle. On this special day, let us remember that the right to participation in public life starts at home, mindful that the respect for reproductive rights and the freedom from any form of discrimination, coercion and violence are solid foundations for inclusive and prosperous societies.
Message of UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
25 November 2012
This year, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women with a focus on the impact of ongoing conflicts and natural disasters on violence against women.
Every day, women and girls face violence in the home, in communities, in conflicts, in aftermaths of natural disasters. It is estimated that up to 70 per cent of women – which is 7 out of every 10 women – experience some form of violence in their life. No human development goal can be achieved as long as women and girls continue to suffer from violence or live in fear of it.
In the ongoing humanitarian crises, from Syria to the Sahel, Afghanistan to Yemen, we see that at every stage of a conflict and in the wake of natural disaster women and girls continue to be the most vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence and abuse.
The impact of violence, and especially rape and other forms of sexual violence are often devastating both physically and emotionally. Consequences may include injuries, unintended pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. Damage to mental health may lead to anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, and suicide. Social consequences include stigmatization and ostracizing by families and communities.
As an international community, we have not been able to prevent these crimes and human rights violations. But we have the mandate and solid frameworks in place to support our work. The landmark Security Council resolution 1325, which condemns violence against women and girls in conflict situations and following resolutions on peace and security call for urgent and concerted action to protect women, stop impunity, and bring justice.
We can achieve this if we intensify efforts and continue to work together. In partnerships with multiple stakeholders, UNFPA reaches vulnerable and affected women and girls in communities and promotes policies and laws that address all forms of violence against women and girls, including the involvement of men and boys.
UNFPA’s dedication to end violence against women and girls is supported by our work in and advocacy for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights, using population data and promoting gender equality.
On this International Day on Elimination of Violence Against Women, UNFPA is renewing its commitment to prevent violence against women and girls as part of our obligation to end this brutal human rights violation.