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Annual Full-Day Discussion on Women’s Human Rights
June 5, 2013

Annual Full-Day Discussion on Women’s Human Rights

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
Human Rights Council

UN Human Rights Council – 23rd Session
June 5, 2013

We welcome the opportunity these panels present to evaluate the work done over the past 20 years to eliminate violence against women and girls and to plan the next steps to make this goal a reality.

We underscore that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.  To participate fully and contribute to their families and communities — economically, politically, and socially — women and girls must be able to live free from violence.

The United States takes seriously its responsibility to take steps to eliminate violence against women and girls.  We have taken a comprehensive approach to addressing violence against women and girls at home and abroad.

In 1994, the U.S. enacted the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the United States’ first comprehensive federal legislation to address violence against women, including intimate partner violence.  The U.S. government provides financial and technical assistance to develop programs, policies, and practices aimed at ending violence against women and girls across our country.  We place priority on the physical and legal protection of women and girls, the prevention of  violence  through public awareness, the prosecution of perpetrators of violence, and the engagement of  men and boys in the issue.

The advancement of gender equality and the rights of women and girls are also at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy.  In 2011, the United States released its National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.  This plan establishes new initiatives designed to ensure that women are represented effectively in conflict prevention and peacemaking, relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts; that they are protected from gender-based violence, including sexual violence; and that they are at the table in decision-making institutions during and after conflicts and through periods of transition.

In addition, the United States has developed a Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally.

Finally, the United States has co-sponsored and voted at this Council and the UN Security Council for resolutions affirming and supporting the advancement and protection of the human rights of women and girls.  We have also stood firm in our support of reproductive rights.

Despite our efforts and the international community’s, violence against women and girls persists.  Eliminating violence against women and girls requires addressing its underlying causes, including discrimination against women in law and practice.  We must build stronger institutions and communities that respect and promote the human rights of women and girls.  The international community, governments, the United Nations, and grassroots-level advocates must work together to address and prevent this horrible scourge.

The United States looks forward to working with our partners globally to chart a new era of international cooperation to address violence against women and girls.

Thank you.