Europe: Parliament calls for a Year on Zero Tolerance of VAW

The global fight to end violence against women and girls gathered momentum as the European Parliament called on the European Commission to designate a “European Year on Zero Tolerance of Violence against Women” to highlight the issue in the next 5 years.
At a ceremony in Strasbourg, France, the President of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, officially announced at the event that the majority of the European Parliament signed, and therefore adopted, a written declaration, which includes the call to the European Commission and urges support for UNIFEM’s Internet advocacy campaign, Say NO to Violence against Women. The written declaration was sponsored by Swedish Member of the European Parliament Eva-Britt Svensson.
“This means that the European Parliament supports the UNIFEM campaign Say NO to Violence against Women, and it pleases me enormously,” said Eva-Britt Svensson at the event. “In a wider sense, it also means that the European Parliament supports the global effort to halt violence against women, and that it calls on the European Commission and the Council to do the same.”

The Say NO campaign, a public awareness and advocacy initiative calling upon governments globally to make ending violence against women and girls a top priority garnered more than 5 million signatures last year, and is designed to support the UN Secretary-General’s system-wide, multi-year UNite to End Violence against Women (UNite) campaign.

Speaking about the endorsement of the European parliament, UNIFEM’s Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, who is the spokesperson of the campaign, said: “Violence against women recognizes no borders. It must be combated in every country. That’s why I want to congratulate the European Parliament members for signing UNIFEM’s Say NO to Violence against Women campaign and for demonstrating the European Parliament’s deep support to take significant actions in all the European Union countries. Your 408 signatures translate into the adoption of a highly significant written declaration. It will mobilize widespread government and public support for meaningful investments in services and resources for survivors.”

The culmination of the first phase of the Say NO campaign took place on 25 November, 2008, when more than 5 million signatures that were gathered through the one-year campaign were handed over to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a high-level event in New York.

Today in Strasbourg, UNIFEM Deputy Director Moez Doraid highlighted the need for building partnerships on the issue: “UNIFEM has for years worked to build strong alliances on ending violence against women. Only by joining forces can we put a stop to this pervasive human rights violation. The European Parliament is a very important ally in this regard and I commend Eva-Britt Svensson for her initiative to support UNIFEM’s Say NO campaign.”

Since the launch of the initiative, some 215 organizations — local and regional NGOs, UN and international organizations — have signed on as partners. Worldwide, ministers and heads of state from 68 governments and nearly 600 parliamentarians have added their names to the Say NO campaign, expressing political will to end violence against women. The Say NO network continues to grow and serves as a platform for multiple sectors, including civil society, governments, faith-based communities and private corporations, to come together and support efforts to end violence against women and girls and make it a reality.

Media Inquiries: Oisika Chakrabarti, Media Specialist, UNIFEM Headquarters, +1 212 906-6506,

21 April 2009