ActionAid UK has today welcomed the inclusion of a specific target requiring United Nations (UN) signatory states to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030 in the publication of the official UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but cautions that implementation is now the challenge.
With the text agreed on the evening of August 2nd, ActionAid UK’s Head of Advocacy, Barry Johnston, says this is crucial towards getting member states to commit resources to addressing violence against women and girls globally.
“The agreement of a standalone goal on achieving gender equality and women’s and girl’s empowerment , including a specific target on ending violence, is a critical step towards ensuring the new development agenda works for women and girls,” said Johnston.
“But we’ve seen these kinds of commitments before. We need political will, adequate financing and leadership and participation of women themselves to ensure meaningful results.”
He added: “The UK played an important role in getting these targets included. We’re now looking forward to PM David Cameron attending September’s General Assembly and setting out how the UK will work with others to ensure these ambitious targets to end violence against women and girls are met.”
Signatory states will begin implementing the new goals from 1st January 2016, replacing the Millennium Development Goals that expire at that point. The SDGs last until 2030.
SDG 5 commits signatory states to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. That goal contains a further commitment (SDG 5.2) for signatory states to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation.
One in three women will experience violence as a result of being female. Women and girls in all walks of life are at risk, at home, at school, in the workplace, even while simply trying to get from one place to another. However, women living in poverty face additional forms of discrimination based on age, ethnicity or sexual orientation and are particularly at risk.
As well as causing physical, sexual and emotional harm, ActionAid research shows that this violence severely hinders women’s and girls’ ability to participate in and contribute fully to society. In this way, violence inhibits women’s full range of human rights, holding everyone back from creating peaceful and inclusive societies.
ActionAid is also working with women’s rights groups, activists and advocates in the developing world to directly tackle these problems and make positive changes – including supporting survivors of violence in their campaigning efforts.
“In Ghana, we work with local activist groups comprised of men and women who talk with community leaders about how to end culturally-based violence against women and girls,” said Johnson.
“One of these groups has recently successfully stopped the practice of Female Genital Mutilation in their village.”