Sexual and reproductive health

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls

25 November 2014 | GLOBAL

Hand stop signs by different people

Today, the 25 November 2014, WHO joins organizations and individuals worldwide in observing the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, an annual event to raise awareness and accelerate progress towards ending the global scourge of violence against women and girls. Estimates suggest that one in three women globally have experienced either physical or sexual violence from a partner, or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives, and that levels of violence against women and girls remain extremely high.

16 days of activism follow this event, ending on 10 December, Human Rights Day, to mobilize support for the cause of ending violence. The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, invites people across the globe to lend their support and to ‘Orange Your Neighbourhood’ – to wear and use the colour orange to symbolize a brighter future without violence.

The Lancet Series

WHO awareness campaign

Clinical handbook

Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence

There are job aids throughout this handbook to help you while caring for and supporting a woman who has experienced or is experiencing violence. The guidelines on which this handbook is based do not directly address young women (under age 18) or men. Nonetheless, many of the suggestions for care may be applicable to young women or to men.

WHO is marking the beginning of the 16 days of activism with events and activities based in Geneva, Switzerland on the 24 and 25 November. This includes a panel discussion on The Role of the Health System in Addressing Violence Against Women at the Palais des Nations, which will include Member States, a Geneva-based NGO (Solidarité Femmes) and the Director of WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research, Dr. Marleen Temmerman.

WHO has also launched the field-testing version of a new clinical handbook Health care for women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence. This handbook aims to help health-care providers respond safely and effectively to women and girls who have been subjected to violence – including physical, sexual, or emotional violence, whether by a partner or by any other perpetrator. These events highlight the launch of The Lancet series on violence against women (co-led by WHO) which took place Friday 21 November at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in London, UK.

Experts call for end to violence

Statement from the independent Expert Review Group on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health

On this occasion, the Independent Expert Review Group on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health (iERG), released a statement to underline the crucial importance of ending violence against women, stating that ‘this important dimension of women’s, adolescent’s, and children’s health has for too long been overlooked and neglected.’

The statement outlines figures such as that ‘around 30% of women have experienced either physical or sexual partner violence’ and states that ‘in some parts of the world, sexual violence is endemic – reports of non-partner sexual violence are as high as 21% in areas of sub-Saharan Africa’. The statement underlines that the response to violence against women and girls must involve a wide range of sectors and organizations, beyond the health sector; ‘Only when the health system is coordinated with the criminal justice system, education, civil society, and faith sectors will an effective response be sustained.’ iERG goes on to state that violence against women is ‘a severe abuse of a woman’s human rights and a global health challenge of epidemic proportions’.