UN Women expresses its grave concern at the continued use of sexual violence as a tactic of war, terrorism and political repression and calls on all parties to conflicts to commit to ceasing such acts.
Sexual violence in conflict disproportionately impacts women and girls and causes grave and lasting harm to survivors, their families and their communities, posing major barriers to peace and development. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed women and girls in conflict and crisis settings to sexual violence and has exacerbated existing barriers to survivors’ access to multisectoral services and justice. This makes our efforts to promote gender equality and achieve peace, as well as just and inclusive societies, all the more urgent and relevant.
The best way to address any type of human rights violation, including sexual violence in conflict, is to prevent it from happening in the first place, which is why it is crucial to address gender inequality as a root cause of this scourge. As the world plans its recovery from the pandemic, we need to take an inclusive, intersectional and informed approach, one that recognizes that achieving durable peace and prosperous societies is not possible without women’s expertise, meaningful participation and leadership.
For the past year, UN Women has been working in close partnership with civil society, Member States, UN Entities, regional organizations, young people and other stakeholders within the framework of the Generation Equality Forum to build a global Compact on Women, Peace, Security and Humanitarian Action and to draft a blueprint for accelerated action through the Generation Equality Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence and others. Together these provide a once in a generation opportunity over the next five years to commit to actions to ensure more effective sexual violence prevention and response, to protect and promote the work of women peacebuilders, humanitarian service providers and human rights defenders, and to ensure women’s leadership in all peace and humanitarian decision-making processes.
Today, as we observe the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, UN Women looks ahead to the Generation Equality Forum in Paris and the opportunities that it brings for collective actions that avert repeated cycles of violence and build inclusive and durable peace.