Hideko Hadzialic, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Kuwait

His Excellency, Dr. Khaled Al Mahdi, Secretary-General, the Supreme Council for Planning and Development;

Dr. Lubna Al-Kazi, Head of Women Research and Studies Center, Kuwait University,

Esteemed leaders from the government and civil society,

UN colleagues and friends, in particular, Jenneke from the UN Women Regional Center in Cairo,

Ladies and gentlemen,

70 per cent of women have been experiencing physical violence from intimate partners in their lifetime.

Women and girls account for more than 70 per cent of all trafficked human globally.

These statistics give me a chill.

Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations once said:

“Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation, and it is perhaps the most pervasive.

It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace”.

This issue is very close to my heart. Achievement of SDGs cannot be possible and it is not real at a time when 70 percent of women are facing violence.

Violence also takes different forms – verbal, cyber, economic, and physical. I am confident that we can discuss about it openly at this workshop, and encourage you to be participatory, creative and innovative in coming up with recommendations.

At the core of all forms of violence against women is lack of awareness and humanity. Economic disempowerment of women can make the situations worse to remain heavily dependent on men, and keep silence even at the time of abusive treatment.  

Gender-based violence is a criminal act that is often committed by people they trust, love and depend on, tearing apart and bringing greater sadness in their lives. I remember the criminal incident whereby one girl died of exhaustion, neglect and hunger, with all abusive acts by her parents. How the world looked like, through her eyes, when her life was ending.

We need to act, and while I talk here, some people are suffering. Parents must protect children. Boys must learn to speak up for their sisters. Community leaders, journalists, social media, parents and teachers must come together. They need to become proud participants in changing gender attitudes

With gender equality and gender based violence now better integrated into SDGs, we have opportunities to strengthen efforts to address and reduce various forms of violence. UNDP is committed to accelerating our efforts to work with governments and civil society partners, both men and women to prevent the violence that affects millions of people around the world.

Today, 160 countries have laws to address violence against women. However, this is not enough. In many cases enforcement is still not in place. We need to work together. This effort is also about bringing youth, men and boys to take responsibility and change their attitude.

Tackling gender-based violence is everyone’s business and responsibility.

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, I extend my sincere gratitude to all of you for determination to make positive changes from many different aspects, and to make this place safer and free from all forms of violence. I particularly would like to thank all Kuwaiti men and women who participated and provided valuable inputs to the IMAGI survey. I am sure Kuwait will shine as the good example to take the lead in combating violence against women. Thank you!

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