Actions are needed now more than ever to prevent and respond to violence against all women and girls, underscored United Nations representatives at the Asia-Pacific Regional Commemoration for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women held at Chulalongkorn University today.
This year’s commemoration came at a unique moment, coinciding with the unprecedented mobilization of millions behind #MeToo and other movements in an escalating global protest against sexual harassment and violence against women. As the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence campaign kicked off, UN agencies and partners called for seizing the opportunity created by the global outcry over sexual harassment and moving it towards concrete actions to better implement laws and policies to end violence against women once and for all.
Aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, speakers highlighted the importance of reaching the most underserved and marginalized women and girls who are particularly vulnerable to violence.
Ms. Anna-Karin Jatfors, Deputy Regional Director of UN Women Regional Office said: “The current #MeToo movement has revealed the silence of so many women and the long-lasting effects of violence. We have finally heard from women who were afraid to speak up, women who were silenced by powerful men and did not feel they could be heard. The world has seen that violence against women can happen to anyone, in any country, in any part of society. This movement has shown that everyone has a role to play in shaping our societies for the better. There is power in speaking out against harassment and violence in our homes, workplaces, universities and schools, and in the media. In the Asia-Pacific region, we see that violence can be prevented and that change is happening.”
Dr. Kingkarn Thepkanjana, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Chulalongkorn University and Director of the BALAC Program shared that violence against women is an issue that affects millions worldwide. “By educating the next generation and involving young people in anti-violence initiatives, we can work to challenge violent behaviours and norms, and create a safer, fairer society for everyone,” said Dr. Thepkanjana.
The event, attended by over 300 students, civil society representatives and government officials, also underlined the crucial role that youth can play to prevent violence against women. Youth have the ability to question outdated thinking about gender roles and establish respectful relationships promoting gender equality.
The Asia-Pacific commemoration was coordinated through the Regional Coordination Mechanism Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, co-chaired by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Women. This event was supported in part by the Australian Government.
The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence campaign, which mobilizes governments and public alike, is commemorated by the UN under the Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women by 2030. Throughout the 16 Days of Activism, the UNiTE Campaign’s Spotlight Days will focus on the far-reaching consequences of violence within some of the most marginalized and underserved groups of women and girls. The public is invited to Orange your Facebook profile picture to show support and spread the word on all social media platforms using the hashtags #orangetheworld #16days and #EndVAW. Orange graphics, infographics and sample messages are available here.