Violence devastates the lives of millions of women and girls globally. It knows no socio-economic or educational boundaries. It is not particular to any society or culture.
Globally, around 30 per cent of women and girls experience physical, psychological or sexual violence during their lifetime. Tragically, the incidence of violence is much higher in situations of armed conflict.
This is simply unacceptable. Violence against women is a universal problem that must be universally condemned and addressed.
2011 marks the centenary of International Women's Day, and this year is the 10th anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. Australia and the United States today renew their commitment to these global goals of the empowerment of women.
Empowering and protecting women requires strong, coordinated action by the international community.
To this end, Australia and the United States fully endorse the establishment of the new global institution 'UN Women', and the appointment of former Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet, to lead it.
UN Women will play a key role in supporting the UN and its member states to deliver on commitments made to women and girls. We are confident that Under-Secretary-General Bachelet will be a strong actor for the protection and advancement of women globally.
Australia and the United States will also work together to support efforts to prevent and respond to violence against women in the Asia Pacific region.
In partnership with the World Bank Group, Australia and the United States will co-host a policy dialogue in Australia in 2011 on effective means to combat gender-based violence and promote the empowerment of women across the Pacific region.
Australia and the United States will collaborate closely with Papua New Guinea on an integrated approach to violence against women and HIV/AIDS. Australia will contribute up to $3 million over three years to support this initiative. The United States will also step up the fight against HIV by doubling the contribution to fight HIV/AIDS in PNG next year.
Today, Australia and the United States reaffirm our commitment to the protection of women and girls from violence, and we call on other governments to join us in this support for UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, and this important cause.
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