International Women's Day, 8 March 2013, is an important day to reflect on the many accomplishments of women, but we should also remember the millions of women across the globe who continue to face violence, abuse and even murder.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. It includes physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse cutting across every boundary of age, race, culture, wealth and geography.
The most violent and dramatic form of violence against women is their murder, which is often motivated by gender. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that, in 2010, 84,000 females were the victims of homicide globally. This figure represents 18 per cent of the 468,000 homicides occurring in that year. In many of these cases, the female victims are killed by intimate partners or family members.
Another important factor is the immutability of these crimes. While most forms of homicide show yearly variations, intimate partner and family-related homicides display fewer fluctuations. The result is a form of homicide that appears ingrained within societies and communities around the world.
And murder is only the ultimate expression of this form of violence. Despite recent advances in some countries, especially in the area of legislation, millions of women continue to report experiences of violence. It is estimated that as many as six out of 10 women will experience physical or sexual violence, or both, at some point during their life.
My Office is a committed partner in the international community's determination to eradicate every form of violence against women. To do so, we need to develop innovative crime prevention policies that target domestic and family-related violence.
But this global crime desperately needs a global response. We need to work simultaneously in all the countries and regions of the world to change perceptions, and to develop laws on gender equality and the status of women in society. Women and girls must be valued and respected by every sector of every society.
Based on UNODC's statistics, in Europe, on average, 18 women are killed every day and 12 of them are murdered at the hands of their intimate partners or other family members.
We must not allow these murders to continue. On International Women's Day, I call on nations, international organizations, civil society the private sector, and the public to work together to create societies where women feel safe and secure.