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Ending violence against women key theme of 2013 International Women’s Day

Indian women carry placards as they march to mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India, Jan. 2, 2013. AP Photo/ Dar Yasin, File

From the fight for voting rights, to the bread and roses campaign, to the struggle for equal pay for equal work and the battle to end violence, people around the world are marking achievements and highlighting continuing challenges on International Women’s Day.

Ending violence against women is the focus of the United Nations’ and Canada’s 2013 International Women’s Day observances.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement marking International Women’s Day, and said efforts need to be made to better educate boys on healthy and equal relationships.

“Our Government supports grassroots organizations across the country for community projects aimed at ending violence against women and girls. These include initiatives addressing violence against women in four key areas: violence committed in the name of so-called ‘honour’; the trafficking of women and girls; women and girls in high-risk neighbourhoods; and engaging men and boys,” he said.

“Our Government has also been taking action by strengthening domestic laws against perpetrators of the most violent crimes and sex offenders who prey on our children.”

There are several IWD events happening around Toronto. Click here for a list.

“Today on International Women’s Day I have a message that has two sides, one of hope and one of outrage,” Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director and the former president of Chile, said in a statement.

“I have hope because awareness and action are rising for women’s rights. A belief is growing that enough is enough.

“But I am outraged because women and girls continue to suffer high levels of discrimination, violence, and exclusion. They are routinely blamed and made to feel shame for the violence committed against them, and they too often search in vain for justice.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted the gang rape and murder of a young woman in India earlier this year that sparked widespread protests across the country. He also highlighted Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by Taliban members in Pakistan for promoting education for girls.

“As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we must look back on a year of shocking crimes of violence against women and girls and ask ourselves how to usher in a better future,” he said in a statement.

“One young woman was gang-raped to death. Another committed suicide out of a sense of shame that should have attached to the perpetrators. Young teens were shot at close range for daring to seek an education.

“These atrocities, which rightly sparked global outrage, were part of a much larger problem that pervades virtually every society and every realm of life.”

According to the UN, 50 per cent of sexual assaults worldwide are committed against girls under the age of 16, and up to 70 per cent of women report some form of physical or sexual violence at some point in their lives.