UK, Canada and UNFPA renew calls to end gender-based violence

Islamabad: Activists, the international community and politicians came together at the British High Commission on 4 December 2023 as part of the annual 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.

British High Commissioner, Jane Marriott CMG OBE, jointly hosted a special reception with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative, Dr Luay Shabaneh, and Canadian High Commissioner, Leslie Scanlon.

British High Commissioner, Jane Marriott CMG OBE, said: “Today we rightly celebrate the progress we have made towards protecting women and girls from the heinous acts of gender-based violence. But this is no time to be complacent, and the UK will continue to speak out against a worrying rollback of women’s and girls’ rights, and to support grassroots organisations.”

UNFPA Country Representative, Dr. Luay Shabaneh, said: “Under UNFPA’s transformative results we are working to end gender based violence by 2030. Women are a missed opportunity in Pakistan. If Women are given their chance to prosper, then the country has a chance for prosperity and good future. We have to shame the perpetrators and we must honour and support the survivors of violence. We must and continue to invest in the health and protection services. Pakistan must advance the implementation of laws and improve the conviction rate of perpetrator in cases of violence against women and girls.”

Canadian High Commissioner, Leslie Scanlon, said: “Canada has been a leading advocate for the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, globally. In Pakistan, Canada is supporting more than to 12 Pakistani women’s rights organizations (WROs) to advocate for and advance gender equality rights for women and girls in the country. Additionally, each year, the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives supports small scale innovative projects often designed to advance women’s rights.

On 28 November 2023, the UK announced a new package of support, including up to £18 million for grassroots women’s rights organisations across 70 countries to tackle gender-based violence in communities, focusing on the most marginalised as part of the UK’s biggest-ever funding boost to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women. Funding will improve access to services, including legal aid, shelters, and health care for survivors, support more effective legislation, and help to shift harmful attitudes and behaviours to prevent violence before it starts.

Between 2018 and 2021, Canada almost tripled its annual investments in preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence – from over $20 million in 2017-18 to over $91 million in 2020-21.

At the halfway point of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, no country is on track to eliminate violence against women and girls by 2030. Despite the scale of the problem, UK-funded evidence shows that violence is preventable and can be reduced by 50% by focusing on the most effective approaches.