International Women's Day 2014

Combatting violence against women in Scotland and around the world should be highlighted as part of International Women’s Day.

Representatives of the Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) will join their peers from almost 100 other national human rights institutions at the United Nations in Geneva next week to exchange experiences and learn from one another as to how women’s human rights can be more effectively realised.

The event will hear about Scotland’s experience of developing a National Action Plan for Human Rights, which emphasises the need for human rights to be taken into account in issues personal safety and access to justice, equal pay, fair treatment at work, access to health and social care, the rights of unpaid carers and those living in poverty, all of which disproportionately affect women.

Specifically, Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) contains a commitment on adopting a human rights based approach to tackling violence against women through development of a new strategy and action plan. In preparing SNAP, women’s organisations reinforced the point that women’s rights are not only about equality but that they are human rights, encompassing all of those rights which are internationally recognised as being necessary for everyone to live a life of dignity

Professor Alan Miller, Chair of SHRC, said: “There is much to celebrate on International Women’s Day, but violence against women remains a daily unacceptable occurrence in Scotland. This is a human rights issue affecting, among others, the rights of women to safety and security, access to justice, health and care services as well as rights to privacy and a family life.

“The revealing report published by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency earlier this week clearly shows that violence against women is an unacceptably large concern for the whole of society - it impacts women from all walks of life, right across Europe. The findings also showed that women in the UK as a whole fared worse than the EU average on almost every measure, from physical and sexual abuse, to sexual harassment and cyber stalking.

“At the United Nations next week the Commission will be taking the message that national action plans based upon international human rights law and standards and drafted by everyone involved - civil society, governments and public authorities, experts and victims - can bring human rights to the forefront so as to effectively address the rights of women.”

  • On Thursday, 13 March in Geneva the SHRC will chair and participate in a discussion on Women’s Rights and National Action Plans on Human Rights, with a panel including representatives from other national human rights institutions from Rwanda, Philippines and elsewhere.

  • Scotland’s first National Action Plan for Human Rights was launched on Human Rights Day 2013 – read more here:

  • On 5 March 2014 the Fundamental Rights Agency published the largest ever survey of violence against women in the EU, involving 42,000 women across 28 member states. One in three respondents reported some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15. Link -