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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 4 March 2004) . . Page.. 761 ..

International Women’s Day is not just about recognising the achievements of women in our community, across the nation and the world, it is also a day to raise awareness about the continuing struggles millions of women go through every day. For many of us, what some women across the world are subjected to or forced to do, simply because of their gender, is incomprehensible.

Addressing violence against women remains at the forefront of women’s issues across the world and this priority has been further highlighted by the establishment of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women held on November 25 each year. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and International Women’s Day give all in our community the opportunity to confront and oppose violence towards women and work towards full equality. World wide, a quarter of all women are raped during their lifetime and, in a number of countries, women who have been raped are sometimes killed by their own family to preserve the family’s honour.

Depending on the country, 25 to 75 per cent of women are regularly beaten at home and more than 120 million girls and women have undergone female genital mutilation. These figures are very distressing and should make us all stop and take note that, despite the enormous gains we have made, there is still much that has to be changed.

A report entitled Not a minute more: ending violence against women, released by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, or UNIFEM, in November 2003, revealed that one in three women or girls will suffer violence simply because they are female. That report says:

One in three. That stark figure sums up the crisis confronting women throughout the world.

The report says that, out of three girls sitting in classrooms worldwide learning to read and write, one will suffer violence directed at her simply because she is female.

It continues:

Of three women sitting in a market, selling their crops, one will be attacked—most likely by her intimate partner—and hurt so severely she may no longer be able to provide for her family.

Throughout the world, this violence will be repeated: Globally, one in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

The report found that violence against women is pervasive worldwide. In no country of the world are women immune—even Australia. In fact, in the ACT, women are overwhelmingly the majority of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Statistics show that one in three women over the age of 45 has experienced domestic violence and 86 per cent of all reported sexual assaults during 2001 were perpetrated against women.

It is for reasons such as these that International Women’s Day must be recognised. The day highlights the issues millions of women face daily and focuses the world

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