Investments in gender equality, and specifically those addressing violence against women, remain vastly insufficient in the region, highlighted United Nations representatives at the Asia-Pacific Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women held in Bangkok Monday.
The regional commemoration was organized by the United Nations Regional Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment, co-chaired by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Women.
Globally, 1 in 3 women has experienced violence in their lifetime. In some Asia-Pacific countries, up to 70 per cent have suffered physical or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Available studies in the region indicate that the costs of violence can range from 1 to 6 percent of a country’s GDP.
“The ripple effects of violence reach far beyond survivors and their children. Violence has tremendous costs, from greater health care and legal expenses to losses in productivity, impacting national budgets and overall socioeconomic development,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar in her opening statement.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development cannot succeed without ending violence against women and girls. Not only is it critical for achieving gender equality, it also has an impact on goals related to poverty, health, education, inequality, sustainable cities as well as peace and justice, to name but a few.
Dr. Akhtar stressed, “The Sustainable Development Goals constitute a potentially powerful violence prevention agenda. The ambition of the 2030 Agenda must be matched with an equally ambitious level of transformative financing means.”
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gives us new tools to drive change. Its ambitious targets demand innovative solutions and new partnerships to mobilize resources, including from national governments, international development assistance, private businesses, foundations and individuals,” said Dr. Miwa Kato, UN Women Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
Dr. Kato reiterated the gravity of violence against women and gaps in addressing it: “Every woman and girl who experience violence has the right to receive care and support, and to see justice served. Yet, in many countries, the laws are often lacking of, or not duly enforced. Too often, shelters, heath care and support services are either not available at all or of poor quality, while the criminal justice system is remote, inaccessible and even appears uninterested in meeting the needs of women.”
The commemoration included an interactive panel discussion which focused on the importance of gender-responsive budgeting as well as innovative means of financing from domestic, international, public and private sources to support efforts in preventing and ending violence against women and girls in the region.
The ‘UNiTE to End Violence against Women’, launched by United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon in 2008, aspires to raise public awareness and increase political will and resources for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls across the world.