The head of the UN women's agency has lambasted the fact that 40 per cent of women globally are likely to be beaten, raped, abused or mutilated.
Speaking on Monday at the opening of a two-week meeting of the UN commission on the status of women, Michelle Bachelet said that the conference provided an opportunity for all countries to address "this most pervasive violation of human rights and dignity."
"This pandemic strikes the life of millions of women, fractures families and communities and impedes development, costing countries billions of dollars each year in healthcare costs and lost productivity."
Ms Bachelet said she hoped the meeting would produce a final document that will be "an important tool for progress in the struggle against violence against women."
Governments failed to agree a final statement a decade ago because of squabbles over sex education, reproductive health rights and demands for cultural and religious exceptions.
The UN convention on the elimination of discrimination against women has been ratified by 187 countries, but there are still over 600 million women in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime.
Ms Bachelet concluded that it's time for action when "intimate partner violence" is responsible for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the US, when one in three girls in developing countries is likely to be a child bride, when millions of women are trafficked in modern-day slavery, and when rape is used as a tactic of war.