Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Speech by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations, New York, 21 November 2016

  1. Introduction

Dear friends of the struggle to end violence against women.

Thanks to the UN Trustfund to end Violence Against Women and to UN Women for organizing this event, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

I have to apologize in advance for having to leave a bit earlier than planned. But, when I do, it is for a good reason:

This morning, we hope to adopt by consensus an important resolution in the 3rd committee.

The resolution, facilitated by France and the Netherlands, aims to intensify efforts to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

This year, the resolution focusses on domestic violence, a topic that effects 1 in 3 women world wide.

Violence Against Women is a global issue, that concerns us all, and we all must do our part to end it.

Ladies and gentleman, allow me to highlight 3 topics to contribute to today’s discussions:

  • the color orange
  • the relation between VAW, gender equality and sustainable financing
  • the need for new partnerships

1) The color orange

You may have noticed this beautiful orange tie [ wijs naar stropdas].

You may know that orange is our national color. And therefore, it is not the first time I wear it.

But today, I wear this orange tie in honor of the UniTE Campaign for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The international UniTE campaign 16 days against violence wisely chose the color orange to represent a better life for women, free from violence and inequality.

The Netherlands considers it a priority to end violence against women and achieve gender equality, as underscored in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Therefore, the Netherlands is joining the international “Orange the World” campaign again this year.

On the 24th of November, we will “orange” one of our capital city’s landmarks, the EYE Film museum in Amsterdam, to mark the start of the campaign.

All four countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten) will color a landmark orange on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

2) Sustainable financing

The Kingdom of the Netherlands considers all forms of violence against women, whether physical, sexual or psychological, a severe violation of human rights.

It is the basic right of all women and girls to contribute to their societies on an equal footing with men.

Yet still, underlying discriminatory norms and values, habits and behavioral codes stand in the way of gender equality.

The advancement of equal rights and opportunities is essential for acomplishing inclusive development, prosperity and peace.

We cannot achieve this on our own. In this light, I welcome this important and timely discussion on the issue of sustainable financing for efforts to end violence against women and girls.

The international climate of development assistance and financing is changing. We need to come up with innovative solutions to support those actors who are crucial in achieving gender equality.

Women’s rights non-governmental organizations, among other actors, can and should be part of that solution, and have a crucial role to play in realizing the 2030 Agenda.

However, at the same time, we see that women’s rights organizations are struggling with obtaining funds, and are more and more pressured by high thresholds for funding.

And that brings me to my third and final point: the need for innovative partnerships. We not only need to think, but also work together,more out of the box. 

3) The need for new partnerships (Dutch example)

We are here today to help end violence against women and girls. In order to do that, we have to talk about investment in women.

Reaching the sustainable development goals is only possible if governments and the private sector start to invest more in the potential of women and girls. 

The Netherlands strongly believes in the importance of innovative and sustainable funding for efforts to end violence against women and girls across the globe.

We are staunch supporters of the UN Trustfund, and of UN Women.

We support local, grass roots women organizations and civil society groups.

But that is not enough.

We also have created strategic partnerships with the private sector.

A good example of such a partnership is the Dutch co-operation with the FairWear Foundation, active in 8 different countries, mostly in Asia.

This is an innovative partnership between different textile factories, European clothing brands, governments, civil society organizations and trade unions. They are using new ways to address and remedy the root causes of violence in the workplace.

With this partnership, we aim to provide factories with the tools they need to implement anti-harassment laws, and workers with the knowledge required to use the systems provided by the law.

This leads to less sexual and mental harassment and more equal power relations at work. At the same time, this leads to healthier employees and higher productivity.

We believe, when businesses are good for women, women are good for business. Companies investing in women are investing in a very smart business case. 

4) Closing

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Let us no longer accept silence and impunity when the basic human right to be free from violence is breached.

Together, let us find creative ways to eliminate violence against women and girls.

Together, let us tackle the root causes of violence and empower women and girls.

Together, let us orange the world.