International Women's Day 2020 - resources and national action plans addressing violence against women

Tue 10 Mar 2020

The theme for International Women's Day (IWD) 2020 (celebrated on 8 March globally) is Creating an Equal and Enabled world. This article highlights recent resources on addressing violence against women, including national action plans.

Resources and reports

A new report Women's Rights in Review: 25 years after Beijing (UN Women, 2020) takes stock of how the landmark gender equality plan, the Beijing Platform for Action, is being implemented. UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said “The review of women’s rights shows that despite some progress, no country has achieved gender equality.” UN Women has also describe an envisioned Equiterra, where gender equality is real.

A New Era for Girls: Taking stock of 25 years of progress (2020) has been produced by UNICEF, Plan International and UN Women. It finds that while girls born today are expected to live eight years longer, we are still far from the vision of gender equality set out in 1995. This report highlights the critical issues of making sure girls have access to 12 years of education and the skills they need for the workforce; ending gender-based violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM); and improving girls’ health and nutrition.

UN Women has also published The Big conversation: Handbook to address violence against women in and through the media (2019). The Handbook provides guidance to the United Nations and others working with media organisations to advance gender equality and prevent violence against women and girls. It includes guidance on (1) strengthening the enabling environment; (2) promoting positive institutional approaches; and (3) engaging with media for changing social norms.

National Action Plans

UN Women provides the following guidance and resources on developing national action plans:

Some recent international developments on strategies and action plans are described below.

In Australia, the Council of Australian Governments endorsed the Fourth Action Plan in August 2019. This is the final action plan under Australia's National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022. The foreword of the Forth Action plan states:

"The 12-year National Plan aims to connect the important work being done by all Australian governments, community organisations and individuals to ensure that each year, fewer women experience violence and more women and their children live safely. The National Plan recognises that violence against women and their children is a complex problem that requires a long-term plan of action."

The Forth Action plan is supported by $340 million from the Australian Government over three years. 

Fiji has announced plans to develop and implement a National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) in 2020. The Plan will be developed by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation (MWCPA), with primary technical partner UN Women. UN Women’s technical and financial support is provided through the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls. At a press conference announcing this work, Fijian Government Ministers discussed their approach to developing and implementing the national action plan.

In Canada the government published their second annual report on It’s Time: Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-based Violence in August 2019. The Strategy was launched in 2017. In her country report for Canada (November 2019), the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences made a number of comments and recommendations on the strategy. In July 2019, Women's Shelters Canada renewed their call for a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women, highlighting A Blueprint for Canada’s National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Girls developed in 2015 by a collaboration of more than 20 non-government organisations, trade unions and independent experts. In 2019, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s re-election campaign included plans to build on the Strategy to develop a National Action Plan.

Aotearoa New Zealand

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the Joint Venture for Family Violence and Sexual Violence is working on designing a national strategy and action plan. In the December 2019 Joint Venture update, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Domestic and Sexual Violence) Jan Logie said:

"We’re continuing to work with the Māori leadership group, Interim Te Rōpū, on the initial design of a national strategy and action plan. It’s been really important for officials and Ministers to understand the perspectives of Interim Te Rōpū, including the context and interconnected nature of the violence experienced within whānau. Our work on the strategy will continue in 2020."

New Zealand's last national strategy to address family violence was Te Rito: New Zealand Family Violence Prevention Strategy (2002).

Related resources

Using systems thinking to address intimate partner violence and child abuse in New Zealand (NZFVC, 2019)

Family Violence Death Review Committee: Fifth report: January 2014 to December 2015 (Health Quality and Safety Commission, 2016)

The way forward: An integrated system for intimate partner abuse and child abuse and neglect in New Zealand (The Impact Collective, 2014)

Learning our way forward: Implementation of New Zealand's family violence strategies (Herbert, 2008)

Related media

International Women’s Day - 8 March 2020, “The time to act is now” – UN experts urge men and boys to become women’s rights defenders, UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner media release, 06.03.2020

International Women's Day: progress on gender equality remains slow, UN News, 05.03.2020

Neglect, abuse of Fijian children on rise - Govt, RNZ, 28.02.2020

Speech at opening of Nadi Women’s Crisis Centre, Beehive, 27.02.2020

What will it take for Canada to confront its femicide crisis?, Equal Times, 21.02.2020

What a national action plan on gender-based violence might achieve — if Canada gets it right, Global News, 09.02.2020

FWRM welcomes National Action Plan commitment to end violence against women and girls, Press release, 15.01.2020

France pledges millions to stop deadly domestic violence, Associated Press, 26.11.2019

France unveils plan to halt violence against women, France 24, 25.11.2019

The latest action plan to tackle violence against women isn’t perfect, but it takes a much-needed holistic approach, The Conversation, 16.08.2019

Why Canada needs a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence, Amnesty International Canada Blog, 07.03.2018

Image: Pexels

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