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Director-General's remarks at the reception on the occasion of the installation of a "Red Bench"

Tatiana Valovaya

Reception on the occasion of the installation of a “red bench”

Permanent Mission of Italy in Geneva

Wednesday, 8 May 2024 at 11.30 a.m.


Ambassador Grassi,


Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me begin by thanking the Permanent Mission of Italy for organizing this reception and for drawing the attention of International Geneva to feminicides and the importance of addressing gender-based violence.

Violence against women and girls is a widespread and complex problem, which knows no social, economic or national boundaries.  Here are some grim statistics: 

Globally, one in three women have been subjected to physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime.

Nearly 1 in 5 women aged 20-24 were married before turning 18. 

More than 5 women or girls are killed every hour by someone in their family. 

According to joint research by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UN Women, the number of feminicides in 2022 – nearly 89,000 – was the highest yearly number recorded in the past 20 years. While these numbers are alarmingly high, they are the tip of the iceberg as many victims of gender-based violence still go uncounted in many parts of the world.

Moreover, gender-related killings and other forms of violence against women and girls are rooted in deep-seated gender stereotypes and discriminatory norms. These inequalities perpetuate cycles of abuse and impunity, making it difficult for women to seek help and access justice. But they are not inevitable.

Gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, also known as SDG 5, is not only one of the 17 goals under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also a catalyst for the sustainable development in all its dimensions.

This is why gender equality is one of the priority areas of the United Nations. Here in Geneva, the United Nations family works in close cooperation with Member States, civil society organizations, academia and private sector to make gender equality a reality, both at home and in professional life. 

Every November, UN Geneva participates in the annual inter-agency campaign "16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” to address specific topics related to gender inequality, such as bodily autonomy, child marriage or girls’ right to education. We also work to raise awareness through the organization of exhibitions and special events at the Palais des Nations. For example, we have an ongoing campaign against sexism in the workplace. It is my firm belief that if we want a real and enduring progress in gender equality, we must speak up about everyday discrimination against women in both the real and virtual world. 

The Summit of the Future in September presents an important opportunity to centrally place gender equality across all chapters of the Pact for the Future. 

Moreover, the ongoing negotiations on the Global Digital Compact and the Declaration on Future Generations, to be annexed to the Pact, offer additional opportunities to ensure that digital transformation equally benefits women and girls, and unlocks the full potential of future generations, thus contributing to a sustainable future for all. The role of International Geneva is crucial in this endeavour, as we have seen many times this year during the preparation for the Summit of the Future. 

I wish to reiterate my thanks to Italy for keeping the issue of gender-based violence at the forefront of multilateral action.

This symbolic red bench, which, I understand, is being installed at every Italian Embassy around the world, will serve as a reminder of the importance to collectively combat violence against women.  

Thank you.


This speech is part of a curated selection from various official events and is posted as prepared.