In 2016, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović put out a global call for submissions asking for feedback on the adequacy of the current international legal framework on violence against women.

The call for input, which was published on the Special Rapporteur’s webpage, consisted of the following five questions:

1. Do you consider that there is a need for a separate legally binding treaty on violence against women with its separate monitoring body?

2. Do you consider that there is an incorporation gap of the international or regional human rights norms and standards?

3. Do you believe that there is a lack of implementation of the international and regional legislation into the domestic law?

4. Do you think that there is a fragmentation of policies and legislation to address gender-based violence?

5. Could you also provide your views on measures needed to address this normative and implementation gap and to accelerate prevention and elimination of violence against women?

The request for input was an important step in furthering the conversation of whether a new legal instrument is needed to address violence against girls and women worldwide. But in a recent report, the Special Rapporteur published points of views from human-rights mechanisms that were against a new treaty while downplaying the response from NGOs and members of civil society who are widely in favor of new a treaty. The lack of transparency mischaracterizes the fact that people around the world—survivors, frontline practitioners, lawyers, directors and staff of local and national nonprofits—are passionate and mobilized on this topic. They want a treaty, urgently.

In fact, the vast majority of submissions from civil society (at least 230 of the 291) called for a treaty. When people respond, their voices should be heard. What follows is a summary of the responses from advocates around the world, along with excerpts of their submissions, expressing their support for a new treaty on violence against girls and women.



There is no legally binding treaty addressing violence against girls and women and the absence has resulted in the lack of political will and global pressure necessary to implement current agreements. This includes CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which is often cited a reason for not supporting the idea of new treaty.

Difference in culture is often used to justify State Parties’ resistance to implementing CEDAW recommendations, but that idea simply allows the cycle of violence against women to continue. The absence of a comprehensive, legally binding, definition of violence against women has also led to fragmented policies and legislation. As a result, State Parties do not feel compelled to focus on implementation efforts, despite persistent advocacy by a wide range of organizations and groups.

Respondents emphasized that CEDAW does not directly address violence; it addresses discrimination, which leaves “violence” open to legal interpretation. Therefore, State Parties are left to their own discretion to incorporate, or not incorporate, CEDAW, including General Recommendation 19 [and General Recommendation No. 35] into their local and national policy frameworks. This causes an irreconcilable gap in global norms and standards on violence against women.

What does this mean? Violence persists. Justice for survivors is limited, or non-existent. Families and communities suffer. Wages are lost. Local and national economies weaken. Violence against women and girls leads to an avalanche of negative consequences worldwide, affecting public health, economics, and national and global security.

“Yes there is a need for a separate legally binding treaty because there is no specific international legally binding document that addresses the gross violation of rights that is violence against women and girls. A separate monitoring body focused on violence against women and girls can ensure all countries are upholding their due diligence and a global high standard to protect women and girls and prevent violence.” – Anne Gamurorwa, Executive Director, Communication for Development Foundation, Uganda

“Without an international mandate that obliges states to use standardized definitions, set punitive actions, provide unconditional resources for survivors, and train public and private officials on response and prevention, no serious reduction of VAWG will take place, particularly in autocratic states.” – Hala Aldosari, PhD, Aminah, Saudi Arabia

“Violence against women is probably the most democratic in its incidence, since it occurs across all boundaries of creed, ethnicity, nationality, educational status and economic strata. Since it is a global phenomenon, all the more reason it should be treated not just a cultural off shoot of patriarchy, but as a crime against humanity and a gross and irrefutable violation of human right to life of dignity.” – Meera Khanna, Executive Vice President, The Guild of Service, India

“The current lack of a legally binding international legislation means governments must have the political will and drive to implement general recommendations and comments – they are not legally bound to uphold these obligations at present, so there is no accountability.” – Ruth Howlett, National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuge New Zealand

“Conflating violence against women and discrimination against women results in an inadequate or incomplete description of the legal concept of violence against women as its own human rights violation. Just like torture is better addressed in CAT than in the ICCPR, VAW would be better addressed in a separate treaty than in CEDAW.” – International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University School of Law, California, USA

“Implementation of domestic policies could be greatly strengthened by a legally binding document holding governments to a specific level of accountability.” – Manizha Naderi, Executive Director, Women for Afghan Women, Afghanistan



A new legally binding treaty specific to violence against women and girls will close the legal gap by creating a clear definition of violence and specific steps for addressing it. This legal tool would create a mechanism for collective global action, placing the weight of the world behind every women’s rights advocate, lawyer, and practitioner around the world working to end this violence.

Violence against women and girls is a complex and intersecting issue that requires a comprehensive, systematic approach. Using the success of the Landmines Treaty, the Tobacco Treaty, and the example of Tunisia’s comprehensive new law on violence against women, a new treaty would mandate that nations take a proactive approach across all sectors. It would require:

  • Comprehensive legislative reform
  • Training responders
  • Support Services
  • Prevention education
  • Adequate funding

The establishment of a legally binding tool combined with global pressure from around the world creates a concrete solution to implementing programs, policies and standards across states.

The following 228 Everywoman Everywhere members responded to the UN Special Rapporteur’s call for submission on the adequacy of the legal framework on violence against women stating their support for a new treaty.

1 Anne Gamurorwa Africa
2 Fartun Abdisalaan Adan Africa
3 Selina Ahmed Asia
4 Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi Africa
5 Widad Akrawi Europe
6 Asmaa Al Ameen Middle East/ North Africa
7 Zainab Ali Khan Asia
8 Muhabat Ali Mangrio Asia
9 Naila Amin North America
10 Sana Amin Asia
11 Seden Anlar Europe
12 Ferdous Ara Begum Asia
13 Khadija Arfaoui Middle East/ North Africa
14 Carol Arinze-Umeobi Africa
15 Nadejda Atayeva Asia
16 Ruth Aura Africa
17 Naila Awad Middle East/ North Africa
18 Sama Aweidah Middle East/ North Africa
19 Adolf Awuku-Bekoe Africa
20 Alvaro Baca Latin America/ Caribbean
21 Kate Bailey North America
22 Fadoua Bakhadda Middle East/ North Africa
23 Amy Barrow Asia
24 Dr.Abdul Baseer Asia
25 Hayat Bearat North America
26 Munara Beknazarova Asia
27 Fenna ten Berge Europe
28 Miranda Berry North America
29 Vanessa Bettinson Europe
30 Charity Binka Africa
31 Zynab Binta Senesie Africa
32 Jackie Blue Oceania
33 Millicent Bogert North America
34 Abdelilah Bouasria Middle East/ North Africa
35 Petra Butler Oceania
36 Abdul Sattar Chachar Asia
37 Aabha Chaudhary Asia
38 Shazia Choudhry Europe
39 Tanyi Christian Africa
40 Vanessa Coria Castilla Latin America/ Caribbean
41 Annie Cossins Oceania
42 Dornida Cox Australia
43 Natalie Csengeri Asia
44 Paola Degani Asia
45 Manisha Desai North America
46 Visaka Dharmadasa Asia
47 Samira Djibo Africa
48 Jessica Doyle Europe
49 Sukhgerel Dugersuren Asia
50 Aliza Durand North America
51 Jo-Anne Dusel North America
52 Melvis Ebob Agbor Asia
53 Kate Edozieh Africa
54 Zine El Abidine Larhfiri Asia
55 Halah Eldoseri Middle East/ North Africa
56 Amany Elgarf Middle East/ North Africa
57 Ifeoma Enemo Africa
58 Natalie Eslick Oceania
59 Taskin Fahmina Asia
60 Dan Faull Europe
61 Evelyn Flores Latin America/ Caribbean
62 Beatrice Fofanah Africa
63 Veronique Fourment North America
64 Felicity Gerry Oceania
65 Heidi Guldbaek Oceania
66 Peg Hacskaylo North America
67 Nabila Haidary Asia
68 Michelle Hamilton North America
69 Ghada Hammam Africa
70 Claire Hammerton Oceania
71 Nabila Hamza Middle East/ North Africa
72 Raazia Hassan Naqvi North America
73 Angela Hefti Europe
74 Sara Hellali Asia
75 Caroline Herewini Oceania
76 Joyce Hewett Latin America/ Caribbean
77 Lisa Hoffman North America
78 Md. Liakat Hossain Khan Asia
79 Ruth Howlett Oceania
80 Mohammad Humayoun Asia
81 Mo Hume Europe
82 Rosemary Hunter Asia
83 Yuman Hussain Asia
84 Heather Ibrahim-Leathers North America
85 Ana Iglesias-Morel Europe
86 Matilda Ingabire Mutanguha Africa
87 Help Age International Asia
88 Sandra Iskander Oceania
89 Azra Jafari Asia
90 P.Imrana Jalal Asia
91 Kirthi Jayakumar Asia
92 Sandra Johansson Europe
93 Jackie Jones Europe
94 Talent Jumo Africa
95 Kabann Kabananukye Africa
96 Jean Kabongo Africa
97 Simi Kamal Asia
98 Gulsana Kangeldieva Asia
99 Sheena Kanwar Asia
100 Puja Kapai Asia
101 Zahra Karimi Mena
102 Stephanie Kennedy North America
103 Valerie Khan Asia
104 Hassan Khani Middle East/ North Africa
105 Hassan Khani Iurigh Mena
106 Meera Khanna Asia
107 Medea Khmelidze Europe
108 Samina Khushi Asia
109 Denise Kindschi Gosselin North America
110 Christine King Oceania
111 Sunita Kotnala Oceania
112 Morissanda Kouyaté Africa
113 Saida Kouzzi Middle East/ North Africa
114 Albena Koycheva Europe
115 Jack Kupferman North America
116 Nina Wolff Landau North America
117 Judy Lear North America
118 Ryan Lim Asia
119 Sisi Liu Asia
120 Ann-Marie Loebel Oceania
121 Sandra Lopez Latin America/ Caribbean
122 Misran Lubis Asia
123 Linda MacDonald North America
124 Shawn Macdonald North America
125 Truffy Maginnis Oceania
126 Namo Majeed Asia
127 Gulnara Mammadova Asia
128 Gladys Mbuyah Luku Africa
129 Frances McLennan Europe
130 Frances McLennan Asia
131 Nancy McLennan Europe
132 Susan McLucas North America
133 Ronagh McQuigg Europe
134 Monica McWilliams Europe
135 Fatima Mendikulova North America
136 Alexander Miamen Africa
137 Meherbano Mirzayee Middle East/ North Africa
138 Violeta Mocmcilovic Europe
139 Aleda MocMonagle North America
140 Sagrario Monedero Europe
141 NCAV Mongolia Asia
142 Suntariya Muanpawong Asia
143 Yolanda Munoz Gonzalez North America
144 Sylvanus Murray Africa
145 Virginia Muwanigwa Africa
146 Jude Muyanja North America
147 Manizha Naderi Asia
148 Hanifa Nakiryowa North America
149 Keerty Nakray Asia
150 Alice Nenneh James Africa
151 Joy Ngozi Ezeilo Africa
152 Savina Nongebatu Oceania
153 Martha Ntoipo Africa
154 Eleanor Nwadinobi Africa
155 Margaret Nwagbo Africa
156 Obioma Nwaorgu Africa
157 Laura Nyirinkindi Africa
158 Maria Pachon North America
159 Ivan David Pachon Latin America/ Caribbean
160 Shivani Pandit North America
161 Seyoung Park North America
162 Anarkalee Perera North America
163 Raluca Petre-Sandor Europe
164 Jocie Philistin Latin America/ Caribbean
165 Dushiyanthani Pillai Asia
166 Marina Pisklák-Parker Europe
167 Anu Radha Asia
168 Saira Rahman Khan Asia
169 Alina Ramirez Latin America/ Caribbean
170 David Richards North America
171 Francisco Rivera Latin America/ Caribbean
172 Lindsay Robertson North America
173 Helah Robinson North America
174 Carolyn Rodehau North America
175 América Romualdo Latin America/ Caribbean
176 Sopheap Ros Asia
177 Ratchneewan Ross North America
178 Rhona San Pedro Asia
179 Maria Montesinos Sanchez-Elvira Asia
180 Sanjana Sarnavka Europe
181 Jeanne Sarson North America
182 Andrew Saunders Europe
183 Denise Scotto North America
184 Anne Scully-Hill Asia
185 Katarzyna Sękowska-Kozłowska Europe
186 Michal Sela Europe
187 Tevita Seruilumi Oceania
188 Rashri Shamsunder North America
189 Lisa Shannon North America
190 Bhawani Shanker Kusum Asia
191 Susan Sharfman North America
192 Norma Shearer Asia
193 Hauwa Shekarau Africa
194 Shanta Shrestha Asia
195 Ramona Singh Latin America/ Caribbean
196 Joanna Smetek Europe
197 Samira Souley Middle East/ North Africa
198 Vidya Sri North America
199 Kelly Stoner North America – Tribal Lands
200 Krishna Prasad Subedi Asia
201 Orit Sulitzeanu Mena
202 Cris Sullivan North America
203 Reena Tandon North America
204 Laurie Tannous North America
205 Martha Tholanah Africa
206 Yeabu Tholley Africa
207 Whare Tiaki Oceania
208 Anne Todd Oceania
209 Safeer U Khan Asia
210 Rachel Uemoto North America
211 Zainab Umu Moseray Africa
212 Jinan Usta Middle East/ North Africa
213 Viola van Bogaert Latin America/ Caribbean
214 Natalie Wade Oceania
215 Monica Waqanisau Oceania
216 Richard Watson Europe
217 Elaine Webster Europe
218 Tim White North America
219 Liz Whiteman North America
220 Ken Willman Bordat Middle East/ North Africa
221 David Wofford North America
222 Pei Yuxin Asia
223 Farwa Zafar Asia
224 Marie Nyombo Zaina Africa
225 Association Marocaine des Droits Humains Africa
226 Centro de la Mujer Panameña Latin America/ Caribbean
227 NCAV Mongolia Asia
228 Training for Women Network Europe



Everywoman Everywhere is a coalition of individuals and organizations from 141 countries advancing a global treaty to eradicate violence against women and girls. Our members include more than 1,300 frontline practitioners, advocates and survivors of violence, and more than 550 organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Vital Voices and Futures Without Violence.

Everywoman Everywhere was incubated at the Initiative on Violence Against Women at the Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard Kennedy School. Additional research revealed that the current international legal framework is insufficient for addressing this global crisis. Gaps in the law, and the mechanisms for implementation, leave millions of women and girls with little to no legal protection against violence or the recourse to seek justice. It became clear that a specific treaty on violence against girls and women would give advocates, practitioners, and world leaders the legally binding instrument necessary to hold nation states accountable.

Download this report: Global Outcry Advocates Urge UN for Treaty to End Violence Against Girls and Women

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