During the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence from November 25th to December 10th, the Ban Ki-Moon Center for Global Citizens contributes to the Orange the World campaign worldwide and in Austria and calls for the elimination of violence against women and girls.
Five years ago, in 2015, the member states of the United Nations agreed on 17 global goals to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. Since then, these Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have become a guide for finding long-term solutions to global challenges. “Leaving no one behind” has become the core message of this agenda as the global community emphasized that the SDGs can only be achieved if peace and prosperity apply to all.
Women make up half of the world’s population, but they are still struggling to exercise their basic human rights in the first place. An astonishing three women experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. Violence against women and girls is therefore one of the most widespread human rights violations and perhaps the most obvious manifestation of the ingrained power imbalances in our societies. How will we ever achieve the SDGs if such inequalities persist?
In 2008, under the leadership of its 8thth Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a multi-year effort to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls around the world UNiTE to end violence against women. The campaign called on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media and the entire UN system to work together to tackle the global pandemic of violence against women and girls. For example, she has worked to pass and enforce national laws to combat and punish all forms of violence against women and girls in line with international human rights standards.
In 2015, UN Women became the agency tasked with leading UN efforts to promote the eradication of violence against women and girls. To strengthen UNiTE, UN Women announced the “Orange the World” campaign, which is to take place annually between November 25th, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and December 10th, Human Rights Day.
During these 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, the world’s most famous monuments and buildings will be illuminated in orange, representing a future without violence against women and girls.
Austria is the host of the United Nations and is located in the heart of Europe. It plays a key role in promoting the campaign locally and internationally. UN Women Austria, Soroptimist International Austria, HeForShe Austria and the Ban Ki-Moon Center are working closely on the Austrian contribution to Orange the World.
In 2019, the partners counted over 130 Austrian buildings in monuments illuminated in orange during the 16 days of activism. The aim is to exceed this number in 2020 and, with the support of the Austrian actress Ursula Strauss, as spokesperson for the campaign, to shed light on current challenges in relation to gender-based violence.
2020 was rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and emerging data has shown that lockdowns around the world were accompanied by an increase in reported cases of domestic violence. This alarming development shows that action must be taken to prevent the deterioration and help eradicate what UN Women has called a “shadow pandemic”.
To bring the campaign message to a wider audience and to discuss the issues of the shadow pandemic with senior actors, two online events will be held during the Orange the World timeframe.
At a virtual high-level round table on November 26th entitled “Fighting the Shadow Pandemic – Violence Against Women During the COVID-19 Era”, UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, Regional Director of UN- Women in Asia and the Pacific Mohammad Naciri, CEO of Avon Angela Cretu, and women’s rights activist Trisha Shetty discussed what steps can be taken to combat the rise in violence against women during COVID-19. The event was hosted by the co-chairs of the Ban Ki-Moon Center, including former Secretary General Ban and the 11thth Austrian President Heinz Fischer.
On December 1st, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Ban Ki-Moon Center are hosting a virtual exhibition entitled “Education, Empowerment and Effective Politics: Innovative Initiatives to Prevent Gender-Based Violence”. As part of the UNODC “Education for Justice – Global Dialogue” series, change leaders from all over the world will come together and present how they are taking measures to prevent violence against women and girls.
To make the world a safer and better place for all, we must all do our part to eradicate violence against women and girls in all its forms. We encourage you to join the Orange the World campaign by hosting an event, sharing its messages and becoming part of this global movement.