Violence against girls and women is an age-old global issue.
On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on November 25, German Development Minister Gerd Müller, actress and doctor Maria Furtwängler, Sister Lea Ackermann and experts from Germany and across the world called for this to change – right across the world and by means of specific projects.
"Violence against women and girls comes in many forms. None of them are acceptable. Any form of violence against women and girls is not only an abuse of human rights – it also robs women and girls of opportunities.
By empowering women, we empower societies," said Development Minister Müller at a conference staged at Germany’s Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on "Successfully preventing Violence Against Women and Girls: Prevention in the International Context".
The Minister used the conference to unveil a new five-point-plan outlining how Germany aims to prevent violence against women and provide them with greater protection through its development policy.
Measures include protecting the victims of violence and bringing the perpetrators to justice, promoting equal opportunities and preventing violence.
Germany will also campaign even more strongly in the international arena for a strengthening of women's rights.
Dr Maria Furtwängler emphasised the important role the media play in this context. "We can only effectively prevent violence against women and girls by bringing about a process of change in society," she said.
"That means banishing from our minds gender roles that legitimise violence and the discrimination that comes with that. And that applies to all of us – those who generate these images and all of us who consume them."
The actress also stressed that violence against women and girls was a global phenomenon.
Dr Lea Ackermann, a nun who founded the organisation "Solidarity with Women in Distress", appealed to delegates: "Together we can stop people who are engaged in prostitution being treated like goods, turning them into modern-day slaves."
The BMZ is also launching a new project for the prevention of violence against women and girls in southern Africa. It will have funding of ten million Euros and cover South Africa, Lesotho and Zambia.
Violence against women and girls is one of the most common human rights violations across the world.
One in three women around the world experience physical or sexual violence at some point during their lives. In some regions, almost 70 percent of women are affected.
The international day serves to remind us of those figures and calls on us all to take action to end violence against women and girls at last.
That is why preventing violence against women and girls is one of the key priorities of the German Development Cooperation.