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Speech by President of the Government at award ceremony on occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Moncloa Palace, Madrid, Friday 24 November 2017

Mr Speaker of the Upper House, ministers, Madam Minister for Health, Social Services and Equality; State Secretary for Social Services and Equality, Government Delegate for Gender-Based Violence, public officials, award-winners, ladies and gentlemen,

For me it is a great satisfaction to take part in this event to present the award and "Menina" sculptures on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It is so for two reasons: firstly, because I am convinced that one of the best ways to combat gender-based violence is to highlight the work of so many people and institutions in its eradication and in support of the victims and their families, and today we acknowledge the admirable work of people in this task; and secondly, it is so because, as President of the Government, I believe that we should feel proud of the support given by Spanish society to the victims.

Although it is always possible to do more, I believe that in this country everyone, without exception, works hard to defend women who are victims of gender-based violence. Today we remember all the victims, we give them a voice and we show that this fight is a shared commitment of all the people of Spain: they are not alone.

Eight out of every 10 women managed to escape from this form of violence, but we want this to rise to all 10 and let them know they can count on our full support.

Spain has found a way to unite in forging a country with greater equality that is free from any form of violence against women. For that reason, on behalf of the government and all the Spanish people, I wish to convey our congratulations to the award-winners. All of you are standard-bearers of a just cause because all of you, through your work and your dedication, help many women, their children and families to find a way out, because there is a way out.

Dear friends,
In commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and particularly today, having unfortunately heard of a woman murdered in Castellon, I wish to dedicate our heartfelt memory to all the victims. We remember each and every one of the women murdered and their orphaned children, the children that are murdered to increase the suffering of their mothers and their families. It is our obligation to remember them all today.

This is a very tough reality. Whoever has had contact with them, directly or through the work of others, is well aware of this. I had the opportunity to see this when I visited the 016 hotline and when I met up with the professionals that staff the gender-based violence centre for adolescents here in the Region of Madrid.

That is why we cannot turn our backs on the victims. We must do everything that is in our hands to help abused women in their most basic of rights: their dignity, their physical and moral integrity and even their right to live in peace and liberty.

I don't believe that a better expression of inequality exists than this, which is why we must combat this tirelessly and with all the resources available to us. A society that respects the rights of men and women, that treats both sexes equally and that does not entertain or admit any form of discrimination is a mature and democratic society.

I firmly believe that we must remain united in defending liberty and the dignity of women to seek effective solutions that prevent and protect female victims and their children. We must do this with the conviction that the protection of victims and the provision of assistance to them is a State issue.

That is why the recent approval of the reports for the State Pact on Gender-Based Violence, adopted by the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament, which are the basis for this pact, reflect the major step forward taken by our society. Achieving institutional, political and social consensus is crucial, because it shows the commitment to achieve, amongst us all, a society free of violence against women.

This task has achieved positive results in recent years. Spain has managed to become an international benchmark in the design and implementation of public policies on gender-based violence. And there are figures that confirm this: fewer victims, despite the fact that today, as I mentioned before, we have heard the news of another woman murdered; there is also more abuse reported and more restraining orders are issued. This means that there are women taking the first step to escape from abuse and there is also greater protection for them.

But, despite all the legal progress at a national and international level, women continue to be the victims of abuse, they continue to be murdered every year and, unfortunately, their children as well on far too many occasions.
We are also facing other forms of gender-based violence. The trafficking of women and girls for the purposes of sexual exploitation is particularly dramatic, and the violence of control exercised through the social media is also particularly alarming due to its impact on young people.

That is why it is so important for us to be able to sign, in the near future, the State Pact we have reached with a spirit of consensus, which must always accompany us in tackling this tough and difficult problem. This is a pact that I committed to in my Investiture Debate and that we brought up at the Conference of Presidents of the Autonomous Regions held back in January this year. This is an historic agreement that provides for many measures with an unprecedented budgetary commitment to carry it through.
As you are aware, this pact is structured around 10 cornerstones. Among us all we are committed to:

  • Breaking the silence, raising awareness and preventing violent conduct, particularly among children, adolescents and young people.
  •  Secondly, to improving the institutional response, with greater coordination and work online.
  • Thirdly, to improving assistance, aid and protection for victims, with particular attention to the most vulnerable.
  • Fourthly, to stepping up assistance and protection for minors.
  • Fifthly, to boosting training for those professionals involved in order to guarantee the best provision of care.
  • Sixthly, to improving statistical monitoring and research.
  • To introducing cross-cutting modules on sexual violence in the content of training in companies and public authorities.
  • Also, to fostering a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary focus to the criminal offence of the trafficking of women and girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
  • To devoting greater financial resources to the application of these policies. As you are aware, we have reached an agreement to allocate budgetary items for a sum of 1 billion euros for the next five years.
  • Lastly, the pact commits - and this is very important in all walks of life - to monitoring and evaluating the policies agreed by a non-legislative Standing Committee in the Lower House of Parliament.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have agreed on 10 cornerstones of the Pact and there are also 10 people and institutions that are here today to be acknowledged for their outstanding actions in the fight to combat gender-based violence. Although this has already been done, please allow me to also individually mention all the people and institutions that deserve our gratitude:

  • The Directorate General of Fine Arts and Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport for placing State museums at the service of social awareness against gender-based violence.
  • Pilar Jurado, an extraordinary soprano, for organising a wonderful festival based on a commitment to equality. 
  • Atresmedia and Mutua Madrileña, for their campaign entitled "Zero Tolerance".
  • Scouts of Spain, for their project entitled "Bring an end right from the start".
  • Commissioner Jorge Zurita, for his work on "Viogén" [Gender-Based Violence].
  • Leganés Sports Club, for its involvement in combating gender-based violence.
  • Miriam Díaz Aroca, for her stage project entitled "Elígete".
  • Alfonso Magaña, a citizen from Aragon who bravely stopped an attack.
  • The Cepaim Foundation, for its work in combating people trafficking.
  • The pop group "La Oreja de van Gogh", for their song entitled "No vales más que yo" [You are not more important than me]

All of you - those that have received awards here today - remind us that each effort made on this matter is tremendously useful and, moreover, worthwhile. Through institutions, culture, associations, culture, business and our day-to-day lives we can also contribute, as citizens, to this just cause.

Dear friends, I will end now.

Fostering equality is the best way to combat conduct that amounts to sexual discrimination, and in its extreme form, violence against women. We know that this is a violence that does not take into account age, profession, skin colour or place of birth. That is why we must also be on our guard to spot any act of gender-based violence in our surroundings to identify it and stamp it out.

Each and every one of us -and I would like this to be today's lesson- can be fundamental is combating this challenge, because a society free of violence against women is possible and together we will achieve this.

Thank you very much.


Non official translation