December 10, 2023
Human Rights Day on December 10 marks the conclusion of our international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which began with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25. These two markers symbolize what we know to be true: achieving gender equality is only possible if we address gender-based violence, a human rights abuse that holds back women and girls from fully and safely participating in our society. Ultimately, gender-based violence harms all of us, regardless of who experiences it, and prevents our mothers, sisters and daughters and our communities, from reaching their full potential.
What does it mean for us to put anti-violence values into practice each day, in all aspects of our lives? What does it look like for government, civil society, business, and every part of society to say that enough is enough – we will no longer tolerate gender-based violence?
These are questions we should all be asking ourselves in our homes, our communities, and our countries. Gender-based violence continues unabated in every region of the world, at all levels of society. The United States is committed to addressing this vast and complex problem that limits the ability of survivors of gender-based violence to fully enjoy their rights in the United States and around the world. This is why the United States has prioritized development and implementation of policies at home – such as the U.S. National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality – that will help us solve this issue in our communities.
We are also committed to addressing gender-based violence in partnership with countries around the world. In Papua New Guinea, gender-based violence touches everyone, destroying families, childhoods, lives. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supports survivors of gender-based violence and other conflict-related violence with life-saving medical supplies and reproductive health care, counseling, and other support. We also work to integrate gender-based violence screening and referrals into HIV care and treatment services. My heart is broken from the stories I heard at the recent second Summit on Gender Equality at APEC Haus and at safe houses in Port Moresby, Mt. Hagen and Lae. We can all do more to protect the women and girls in our community.
Responding to gender-based violence is only part of the solution. We must work to dismantle the systems that enable gender-based violence in the first place. Fathers, brothers and sons must stand up with us to say enough is enough, there is no excuse for the tragic abuse of women and girls.
In April 2022, President Biden announced the U.S. government would focus on PNG as a priority partner country for advancing the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability. Under this strategy, we are working with local governments and communities worldwide to stand with PNG and countries around the world to strengthen their abilities to prevent, mitigate, and peacefully respond to violence. We are doubling down on our commitment to work together with PNG authorities to improve gender equality and address women’s needs in this country, because evidence shows that addressing and preventing gender-based violence creates more peaceful and stable societies.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document affirming that every human being is born free and equal in dignity and rights, and that these rights exist without distinction of any kind. On this important anniversary, let us stand up together for our mothers, sisters, and daughters, affirm women’s human rights and end gender-based violence – for the sake of our families and communities today and tomorrow.
On this important anniversary, let us stand up together for our mothers, sisters, and daughters, affirm women’s human rights and end gender-based violence – for the sake of our families and communities today and tomorrow.
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