The United Nations agency tasked with advancing gender equality Tuesday announced a new initiative that will spotlight countries' commitments to end violence against women and girls, seeking bold action and leadership to galvanize efforts to end the pandemic.
"We all must do better to protect women and prevent this pervasive human rights violation," said the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equity and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), Michelle Bachelet.
According to UN women, currently, there are 125 countries which have laws that penalize domestic violence. However, up to seven in 10 women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, and 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime.
The new initiative, COMMIT, asks governments to make national commitments that will be showcased globally, encouraging countries to come up with new policies to protect victims.
"We hope to see new and improved laws and national action plans that provide for safe houses, free hotline services and free health and legal aid to survivors," Bachelet said. "We count on education programmes that teach human rights, equality and mutual respect, and inspire young people to take leadership on ending violence against women and girls."
"We need increasing numbers of women in politics, law enforcement, and peacekeeping forces. We need equal economic opportunities and decent jobs for women," she added.
There are high expectations that governments will agree on framework to tackle violence against women and girls in March at the next session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is expected focus on this issue, UN Women noted in a news release.
The announcement of the COMMIT initiative comes days before the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which falls on Nov 25.