On the occasion of International Women's Day (IWD), March 8, while reminding the world community the urgency to end gender-based violence, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said that the progress toward gender equity had been rather 'slow and uneven' which needed to be accelerated.
Ban expressed his concern regarding girls as young as seven were being not only targeted but also used as weapons by violent extremists.
"The world must come together in response to the targeting of women and girls by violent extremists. ..Women have been attacked for trying to exercise their right to education and basic services; they have been raped and turned into sex slaves; they have been given as prizes to fighters, or among extremist groups in trafficking networks," said Ban.
Ban urged the the international community to initiate meaningful action such as humanitarian aid, psycho-social services, support for livelihoods, and efforts to bring perpetrators of the gender-based violence to justice.
"Empowered women and girls are the best hope for sustainable development following conflict. They are the best drivers of growth, the best hope for reconciliation, and the best buffer against radicalization of youth and the repetition of cycles of violence," he added.
Terming 2015 as the vital year for advancing the cause of women's human rights, Ban stressed the need to change mind-sets, especially among men, and engage men in becoming active change-agents themselves. He is of the view that in gender equality generate economic progress, social and political inclusion and other benefits that, in turn, foster stability and human dignity.