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Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread violations of human rights. It can include physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse, and it cuts across boundaries of age, race, culture, wealth and geography. It takes place in the home, on the streets, in schools, the workplace, in farm fields, refugee camps, during conflicts and crises and has many manifestations - from the most universally prevalent forms of domestic and sexual violence, to abuse during pregnancy, so-called honor killings and other types of femicide. Countries have made some progress in addressing violence against women and girls. According to the UN Secretary-General's 2006 In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women, 89 countries had some legislation on domestic violence, and a growing number of countries had instituted national plans of action.

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UN Women's Approach

UN Women works on several fronts towards ending violence against women and girls. This includes tackling its main root: gender inequality. Efforts are multiplied through advocacy campaigns and partnerships with governments, civil society and the UN system. Initiatives range from working to establish legal frameworks and specific national actions, to supporting prevention at the grassroots level, including in conflict and post-conflict situations. UN Women has also supported data collection on violence against women, facilitating new learning on the issue.

On behalf of the UN system, UN Women manages the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

UN Women's Strategy

To advance UN Women's work on the elimination of violence against women and accelerate progress in implementation and upscaling, the organization's vision and future directions are set out in A Life Free of Violence: Unleashing the Power of Women's Empowerment and Gender Equality: Strategy 2008-2013. The document looks at seminal reports, worldwide initiatives, and expert consensus and emerging issues in academic, advocacy and policy circles. It also provides an overview of UN Women-supported programming, work in progress at other UN agencies in the context of UN reform, and other opportunities available to accelerate progress, such as the UN Secretary-General's multi-year campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.

UN Women's Global Programme on Safe Cities Free of Violence against Women

Safe Cities is a unique initiative that focuses on reducing sexual harassment and violence in urban public spaces, through community empowerment and partnerships with local authorities. It is the first global effort focused on developing an intervention model, proven and tested through rigorous evaluation, of how practical measures by local authorities, along with community mobilization, can result in preventing violence against women. The initiative originated in Argentina and Peru, where two women's organizations used a UN Trust Fund grant to pilot ways of making cities safer for women.