Published: 13 February 2013

On February 14, the Office of the General Secretary of the United Nations, in unison with its UNiTE to End Violence Against Women Campaign, observe One Billion Rising at UN Headquarters in New York. We received this message from Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson:

The Secretary-General and I share your commitment to preventing and ending all forms of violence against women and girls.  This is precisely the message of the Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign started in 2008.  It is also at the heart of the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, who works on these issues around the world.

We will host an event at UN Headquarters on 14 February at 12.30 p.m. encouraging our staff to join forces and stand up to end violence against women. I will personally speak at this event and deliver the SG’s message.

Thursday’s event will also serve as a prelude to the upcoming gathering of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in March. This year’s Commission will be the largest-ever UN assembly to end all forms of violence against women and girls. Governments have pledged to come along with civil society representatives from around the world. The event will serve as a crucial platform to reach agreement on actions to stop gender based violence by improving access to justice and services, strengthening laws and policies, and preventing violence through education and awareness-raising.I look forward to rising on February 14 and to continuing our common efforts to creating a better and safer world for women and girls.

She included a statement from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The global pandemic of violence against women and girls thrives in a culture of discrimination and impunity.  We must speak out.  That is why I launched my global UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. As part of this, I am proud to emphatically raise my voice and join the chorus of all those taking part in the One Billion Rising campaign.

But this must be more than a day of advocacy.  It must be a day that triggers action.

In less than three weeks, at the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, the world will gather at United Nations Headquarters for the largest-ever UN assembly to end violence against women and girls.  Eighteen governments have pledged to come to this historic gathering with new initiatives to stop gender-based violence by improving access to justice, ratifying international conventions, strengthening protection, toughening punishment and enhancing prevention and education.  They are part of UN Women COMMIT to end violence against women and girls initiative.

I encourage all of you to call on your leaders to join this effort.  On this special day, I urge all governments to send us a Valentine message: a concrete commitment of action to end violence against women and girls.  Bring that commitment to the Commission on the Status of Women meeting in New York in 18 short days.

By standing together we can end violence against women and girls and build a world where all live free from harassment and fear. This will have benefits that reverberate far beyond the affected individuals as they become empowered to help create a better world.