“We are living in a historical moment,” says Patricia Elias, Chief of Global Diplomatic Campaign for Every Woman Treaty, a diverse coalition of more than 3,800 women’s rights advocates working to end violence against women and girls worldwide.

“It’s the start of a new international treaty.”

Elias is talking about a new binding international agreement to end violence against women and girls, a goal that Every Woman Treaty has been working towards for the last ten years.

Every Woman Treaty emerged a decade ago in 2013, spurred by a call for action from various UN bodies, notably the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Professor Rashida Manjoo.

This clarion call gathered a cohort of frontline activists and legal scholars from all over the world, including Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, the UK, Afghanistan, the US, Croatia, and Indigenous reservations.

Their seminal meeting, hosted at Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, laid bare the stark absence of a binding international norm aimed at eradicating violence against women and girls. Out of this exchange, Every Woman Treaty was born.

Though the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), established in 1979, was a milestone in the international advocacy for women’s rights, it initially only addressed issues of discrimination. Women’s rights activists soon found the treaty had omitted explicit references to violence against women, reflecting the prevailing societal attitudes of the time that these were ‘private matters.’

United in a single purpose, Every Woman Treaty advocates to end violence against women and girls through the formulation of a new optional protocol to CEDAW, aligning with General Recommendation 35, to combat gender-based violence more comprehensively.

“Other organizations, they do many things,” says Elias. “But we have only one goal. So this is it. We need a safer world for women and girls.”

Read the full article about Every Woman Treaty by Amber Cortes at Global Washington.