More than a reflection, a call to action: by Maria Eugenia Pérez Zea, President of the ICA Gender Equality Committee

30 Nov 2020

A call to action on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the ICA Gender Equality President, María Eugenia Pérez Zea:  

"The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about the best and worst of humanity, sharpened and amplified many of the adverse realities facing the world: hunger, poverty, unemployment and many others, among which, of course, gender-based violence cannot be excluded.

The pandemic has clearly worsened the current situation of women. Firstly, it has impacted on work, between July 2019 and July 2020, women in employment went from 9.2 million to 6.7 million, a decline of 28%. It has further increased the burden of household work for women, who are unrecognized or unpaid, and worse, stigmatized by many societies. It has also caused a deterioration of mental, physical and emotional health, because many, due to confinement, are suffering from depression and anxiety, or have fallen into eating disorders, stress, and even a myriad of diseases that were previously undiagnosed, or they thought they were cured or apparently in remission.

Beyond these problems, the confinement has exposed the result of broken families... domestic and gender-based violence, and the result of locking up women with their own assailants is devastating: during the pandemic, violence of this type has become the second most reported crime in Colombia; So far this year, prosecutors have received more than 60,000 reports of domestic violence, more than 110 women have been murdered and nearly 25,000 women and girls have been victims of sexual violence.

Even though with these figures, the global picture is evidently so disadvantageous for the future of our gender, I have hope when I think there are millions to fight for, that there are millions who need the commitment, effort and actions of those of us who have raised our voices, because it is everyone's task to end violence against women and girls.

While there are mobilizations and activities around this date, they are not enough. It is necessary that all civil society, governments, social and solidarity organizations, public and private enterprises and international organizations, generate public awareness through education, acts large and small, collective and individual, that end violence against women and girls.

From cooperativism, from respect, from the reduction of inequalities, from the mitigation of exclusionary language, from justice, from the regulation of weapons... from your house and my house, we can contribute. Let us change the course of tomorrow with today's actions.

Small actions can have big impacts to put an end to violence against women, for 16 days let’s Orange the World together."


GBVD 2020


Background information

The UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women campaign (UNiTE campaign), managed by UN Women, is a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls around the world. It calls on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media, and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.


As the world retreated inside houses due to the lockdown measures introduced to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, reports from around the world showed an alarming increase in the already existing pandemic of violence against women.

“Accompanying the crisis has been a spike in domestic violence reporting, at exactly the time that services, including rule of law, health and shelters, are being diverted to address the pandemic,” said the UN Secretary-General's report “Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19".

In response, the UN System’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence activities will begin on 25 November under our 2020 global theme: "Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!"

You can make a difference during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and protracted state of crisis it has generated across the world, you can support women and girl survivors of violence to stay safe and free of violence. Take action during this year’s 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence.

Why we must eliminate violence against women

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.

In general terms, it manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, encompassing:

  • intimate partner violence (battering, psychological abuse, marital rape, femicide);
  • sexual violence and harassment (rape, forced sexual acts, unwanted sexual advances, child sexual abuse, forced marriage, street harassment, stalking, cyber- harassment);
  • human trafficking (slavery, sexual exploitation);
  • female genital mutilation; and
  • child marriage

To further clarify, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women issued by the UN General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”