Press Release

16 Days of Activism: UN calls for justice for women and girls survivors of gender-based violence

24 November 2021

24 November 2021; Baghdad, Iraq - As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the launch of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), we are reminded that GBV harms women and girls’ health and well-being.

According to the latest estimates, nearly 1 in 3 women aged 15 years and older around the globe, at least once in their lifetime have experienced a form of sexual and gender-based violence indicating that levels of violence against women and girls have remained largely unchanged over the last decade. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the risks for women and girls to undergo violence and abuse during the lockdown. 

In Iraq, the Government and local actors, with support from the United Nations, are working to improve services for survivors, including access to healthcare, survivor-centred case management and legal assistance. Yet, more needs to be done.

GBV disproportionately harms women and girls because of their lesser socio-economic political power in relation to men and the discrimination they suffer to enter the labour market. Vulnerable groups like internally displaced persons, returnees, as well as Syrian and other refugees also face increased risks of sexual violence and exploitation.

We urge the Parliament to endorse the Anti-Domestic Violence law aimed at improving the judicial response to prosecuting GBV cases and ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. Survivors of violence need protective spaces and environments to feel safe and empowered to thrive.

Countering impunity for perpetrators; providing survivor-centred care; improving services for survivors, economically empowering women through providing decent job opportunities and promoting culturally sensitive approaches to social change and positive behaviours of men and boys can help create conditions for women and girls to participate in societies free from violence and harassment, including in the workplace. The engagement of boys and men as allies to end gender-based violence is equally needed to create a safer society for women and girls.

We must stand together, speak up and take action against all forms of violence against women and girls in Iraq. We will continue our joint efforts to support the implementation of UNSCR 1325 advocating for women’s political participation and protecting women and girls from GBV.

Freedom from violence will help women and girls reach their educational and professional goals; achieve economic independence; build careers and contribute to the development of their communities and society at large.

Together, let’s End Violence Against Women Now!


Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq

Dr Rita Columbia, UNFPA Representative, Iraq

Dina Zorba, UN Women Representative, Iraq and Yemen

Zena Ali Ahmad, UNDP Resident Representative, Iraq

Sheema Sen Gupta, UNICEF Representative, Iraq

Ally-Raza Qureshi, WFP Representative, Iraq

Jean-Nicolas Beuze, UNHCR Representative, Iraq

George Gigauri, IOM Chief of Mission, Iraq

Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator, Iraq

Dr Ahmed Zouiten, WHO Representative, Iraq

Muhammad Usman Akram, Director,  UNOPS Operational Hub in Amman

Danielle Bell, Representative, OHCHR, Iraq

Paolo Fontani, UNESCO Director and Representative, Iraq

UN entities involved in this initiative

International Labour Organization
International Organization for Migration
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations
UN Assistance Mission for Iraq
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Fund
United Nations Office for Project Services
World Food Programme
World Health Organization

Goals we are supporting through this initiative