Violence against women constrains the enjoyment of women's human rights everywhere. We know that it is a manifestation of power and control and a tool to maintain gender inequalities, disrupting the health, survival, safety and freedom of women and their families around the world. We know that to end violence against women and girls, we must ensure their full empowerment, promote and protect their rights, including access to justice and support services, and end the discrimination they face in all aspects of their lives.
Changing cultures towards zero tolerance for violence against women, therefore, must be a priority for States, communities and families. Over the past few decades, much has been done in legal and policy reform and the extension of services to support and protect women and their families from domestic and sexual violence, while prevention efforts have focused on campaigns and advocacy that have brought the issue into public
Preventing violence requires the sustained involvement of socializing institutions at the community and state levels, including schools, faith-based organizations, media and popular culture. This is recognized in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, which calls for States to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women and to eliminate prejudices and customary practices. The elimination of harmful gender norms and practices can only be achieved through the engagement of men and boys. Understanding men's own diverse experiences, within the context of deep-rooted patriarchal systems and structures that enable men to assert power and control over women, will help us target the underlying drivers of violence against women and girls to stop violence before it starts.
Through our regional joint programme, Partners for Prevention, UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women and UNV have worked together to undertake the UN Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific. The study, which collected and analysed data from thousands of women and men across the region, provides the largest multi-country data set on men's perpetration of violence against women and can inform more evidence-based interventions to prevent such violence. Ending violence against women requires coherent policies and programmes that emphasize gender equality as non-negotiable and the transformation of social norms. Sustainable development, peace and security can only be achieved when caring and respectful relations among women, men, boys and girls become the norm.