The Year of the Woman

This year will be a very significant year for women across the globe. The world will mark the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing as well as the deadline for crafting the post-2015 agenda. Both events will involve conversations on women's rights including their right to live safely and freely of violence in addition to gender equality and the empowerment of women. The two global events involve women for all the right reasons. It would be stating the obvious to say that the whole society flourishes when gender parity prevails. Women are an essential and indispensable component of the development process in any given society.

When UN Women For Peace Association launched in March three years ago, I took it to my heart to promote the cause of "ending violence against women" because I strongly believe that physical violence against women, is not merely an assault on her body, but rather a violation of her soul, integrity and freedom of movement.

The crime is pervasive around the world. The victims are women of all color, young and elderly, low-income and middle-income earning women. The culprits are the same predators: a husband, a male partner or a family member.

In many societies in developing and developed countries alike, violence against women is woven into the fabric of the society as an acceptable behavior.

It is about time to change mindsets and win the battle of ideas.

In that context, men are part of the problem and they are by default part of the solution. Men and boys have a responsibility to speak out and say no to abusive men.

This problem has been happening forever, it is heartening though to see that it has been gaining momentum and media attention at the national and international levels.

Governments and law enforcement agencies are passing laws and crafting legislations that aim at preventing and combatting violence against women. Implementation, though, has been going at a slow pace.

We have seen a number of initiatives recently launched like President Obama's "It's on us" initiative and the United Nations' "HeforShe movement." But as much as all existing initiatives help bring awareness to the problem, more action is needed on the ground.

Ultimately, governments cannot do it alone. Collective efforts from the international community, civil society and corporate sector are equally imperative. We have a shared responsibility to put an end to this crime.

As the world celebrates International Women's Day on March 8th, it is time to remember that are many gains to be cherished and there many gaps that still persist.

It is equally important to keep up the momentum that was generated here in New York City and around the world. To mark the occasion, UN Women for Peace Association is teaming up with UN Women in organizing a March for "Gender Equality: Step it Up - Planet 50-50 by 2030. I invite all men and women who care about women's rights to join this March on Sunday, March 8 at 2:30-5:00 pm from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th st and 2nd ave) to Times Square. If you can't join the march, you can make your voice heard by tweeting #iwalk4women.

Signing off: I would like to borrow what Rev. Desdmund Tutu said, "It is by standing up for the rights of girls and women that we truly measure up as men." Quite inspirational words for all of us.