International Day for the elimination of violence against Women

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On 25 November, the international day for the elimination of violence against women, the world turns orange again. In keeping with the annual tradition, the "16 days of activism against gender-based violence" campaign is launched under the hashtag #orangetheworld.

The importance of prevention

Belgium attaches great importance to this campaign. The fight against gender-based violence is a priority of our foreign policy for years. And this remains necessary even today. Worldwide, an estimated 736 million women were victim of physical and/or sexual domestic violence. That is almost one in three. Women are also increasingly facing gender-based violence at work or online.

This year, the United Nations, in particular UN Women, emphasises the importance of prevention. After all, violence against women and girls can be prevented. And we now know better what actions and strategies work best to this end. If all of us - Governments, the UN system, civil society, educational institutions and the private sector - work together in a focused and comprehensive way and build upon what works, we can make a difference for many women and girls.

A Belgian priority, both in domestic and foreign policy

Our country is putting the issue on the agenda both nationally and internationally, guided by the implementation of the sixth National Action Plan to combat all forms of gender-based violence (2021-2025). The FPS Foreign Affairs plays an important role in this. We raise the issue of gender-based violence both in our bilateral contacts and in multilateral forums. One of our focal points is the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention.

"1 in 3 women is a victim of physical or sexual violence. This violence has no place in our world. It shatters not only bodies but also minds and thus the future of girls and women. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I support many initiatives to combat and prevent violence against women. In Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, for instance, we are working hard to develop an effective legislative arsenal to combat sexual violence and online harassment," said Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"Women in politics are particularly vulnerable to online verbal abuse. In March, I convened a number of stakeholders in Brussels to raise awareness, create forums for discussion and find ways to combat this social phenomenon. We followed up this initiative with a joint declaration to the Human Rights Council, in cooperation with Bolivia and South Africa, supported by over 50 countries."

Belgian international solidarity

The fight against gender-based violence is also at the heart of Belgian development cooperation. It is one of the four pillars of its gender and development strategy. The emphasis is on partnerships, anchoring Belgian initiatives at community and family level, and on an approach that is both multidimensional and holistic. In addition to prevention, efforts are made to reduce and punish sexual and gender-based violence.

To this end, Belgium funds several initiatives such as: UN Women and UNFPA, the UN Population Fund, as well as UNICEF and UNFPA's joint programme to combat female genital mutilation (FGM); the UNFPA Supplies Partnership, which provides support to countries benefiting from programmes to strengthening their health care systems; and the SheDecides Support Unit, a global political movement fighting for a world in which every woman and girl can decide about her body, life and future.

Caroline Gennez, Minister of Development Cooperation: "Violence against women and girls is a persistent problem, in every country, in every culture. The fight for women's rights is not over - quite the contrary. Globally, we see increasing pressure on women's rights from different angles. Sexual violence is used on a massive scale as a weapon of war. We must continue to resist that. And that is why we invest in initiatives such as the UNFPA-UNICEF joint programme to end Female Genital Mutilation, a multilateral programme to combat female genital mutilation, and the Global Survivors Fund, which advocates reparations for survivors of sexual violence. Ending violence against women and girls is the bare minimum in the fight for equal rights. Everyone, everywhere, has the right to live her life in safety and without fear of violence."


As every year, the Belgian diplomatic network is mobilising to support the "16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence" campaign. You can follow the actions of our embassies and diplomatic posts through their social media, which will be coloured orange for the occasion.

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