21 November 2001


NEW YORK, 20 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November:

As we observe the second International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we are more aware than ever that violence against women remains a global phenomenon against which no country, no society and no community is immune.

Recent events have made the issue come alive even more acutely. The treatment of women and girls in Afghanistan in the past several years has been an affront to all standards of dignity, equality and humanity. As we face a momentous political, humanitarian and human rights challenge in Afghanistan, addressing the plight of women will be a major priority for any future United Nations role in that country.

Just over a year ago, the world’s leaders in their Millennium Declaration reaffirmed that "men and women have the right to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression or injustice". Also last year, the Security Council addressed, for the first time, the situation of women in armed conflict and adopted resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. This groundbreaking document called on all parties to armed conflict to protect women and girls from gender-based violence, particularly rape and sexual abuse, and emphasized the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity for those responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including sexual and other violence against women and girls. In the same year, our Member States gathered for the opening of signature of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its protocols, one of which aims to eliminate trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

These commitments must be our lodestar in our mission to free women from violence, wherever they may live. Violence against women is not a "women's issue", but one that concerns us all – especially men. Indeed, men must work to confront what should be described as men's violence against women, and recognize and respect the equal role and rights of women. When it comes to violence against women, there are no grounds for tolerance and no tolerable excuses.

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let us recall the words of a member of an Afghan women's group, one of the many unsung heroines of our time: "Society is like a bird. It has two wings. And a bird cannot fly if one wing is broken. Let us resolve to ensure that all societies fly with both wings, of equal strength and with equal dignity.

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