International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 Days of Activism

Press Statement
John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
November 25, 2013

Each November 25, we reaffirm a global commitment to the elimination of violence against women and renew our collective pledge to the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

This fight is deeply personal to me. As a prosecutor, I saw firsthand the ravages of violence against women. As a proud father of two daughters, and as a husband to a strong woman who has invested so much of her public passion towards improving the lives of women, I know the difference it makes when women and girls have the opportunity to pursue their full potential and live free of violence. By contrast, gender-based violence not only undermines human rights, but poses significant obstacles to public health, economic and social development, and long lasting peace. It ruptures families. It breeds poverty and instability, and it can prevent women and girls, and their entire communities, from realizing their full potential.

We know we have much work to do. Despite all the collective international outrage, gender-based violence continues with impunity, and on a harrowing scale. Gender-based violence remains an epidemic of global proportions that cuts across every social and economic class, ethnicity, race, religion, and education level. In fact, nearly one-third of women worldwide have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence. That is an unacceptable statistic and must be a wake-up call.

The United States has made addressing gender-based violence a priority domestically and abroad. As evidenced by the first U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally, the first National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, and new commitments to prevent and respond to gender-based violence starting at the onset of humanitarian emergencies, we are working comprehensively to improve prevention, protection, and prosecution measures to address this global scourge.

This day is a time to reaffirm our determination to turn words into action, and we commit to doing our part to make the world free from brutal acts that deprive our fellow citizens of a life of equality and human dignity.

PRN: 2013/1477