Violence and discrimination against women and girls is everybody’s issue.
Every girl and every woman has the right to live free from violence, discrimination, intimidation or abuse.
Yet today, violence denies millions of women and girls around the world this right. Violence against women and girls remains one of the most persistent, systematic and widespread human rights violations.
Why does it happen?
Violence and discrimination against women and girls is rooted in the structural inequality in power relations between women and men. Harmful social and gender norms mean women and girls are considered less valuable than their male counterparts, and perpetuate men’s control and sense of entitlement over women and girls.
Violence and discrimination against women and girls can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. It persists in every country and can occur in private and public spaces regardless of age, education or socioeconomic status. There is nothing that justifies it and it is never the target’s fault.
What is the impact?
Violence and discrimination deny women and girls their right to fulfil their potential and live the life they choose. It has immediate and long-term physical, sexual and mental health consequences, and prevents girls and women from fully participating in society.
When women and girls are empowered and given equal opportunities, free from violence, they can exercise their rights and drive forward sustainable development – for themselves, their family, community and country.
How can we end it?
Ending violence and discrimination against women and girls in the long-term is complex. It requires interventions across sectors and levels to tackle the deeply-rooted gender inequality which fuels it.
But it can be stopped, and everybody has a role to play. Individually and collectively, we must become positive bystanders, standing up for the rights of women and girls and pro-actively speaking out against discrimination and abuse.
By calling out harmful behaviours and attitudes, we will challenge the ingrained norms and inequalities which perpetuate violence and discrimination.
Promoting positive masculinity, which includes being kind, respective and emotional, will also help create a cultural shift in which to be a man does not mean being violent.