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UNFPA: Statement on the Occasion of International Women's Day

Message by Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director, UNFPA

08 March 2007 - No matter where a girl is born, she should live free of discrimination and violence. Every girl and woman should enjoy equal opportunity and equal rights.

Yet, violence against women and girls continues to be widespread and most of these crimes go unpunished.

The theme of this year's International Women's Day, "Ending impunity for violence against women," calls for stronger commitment and action. The widespread impunity that exists today not only encourages further abuses and suffering. It also sends the signal that male violence against women is acceptable or normal. It is not. Together, we can and must do more to prevent violence against women, provide services to survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are punished.

UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is committed to working with partners to combat discrimination and violence against women and girls. Today, we pay tribute to the women and men in every country who are demanding justice, and to the parliaments and governments that are taking action.

While progress has been made in the adoption of laws, much greater action is needed to ensure that laws are enforced and awareness is raised. Everyone should understand that violence against women and girls is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated.

UNFPA will continue to work within the United Nations system and with governments and civil society to put national action plans in place that prevent and address violence against women. We will continue to promote human rights, including the right to sexual and reproductive health, women's empowerment and gender equality.

Together, we can change deeply rooted attitudes and practices that discriminate against women and girls. And together, we can ensure that all those who respond to violence against women—whether they are police officers, judges, lawyers, immigration officials, medical personnel, or social workers—are sensitized and trained to provide a response that is compassionate and comprehensive.

By ending impunity for violence against women, we will make greater progress in achieving peace, development and human rights for all.

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