Erbil, Iraq, 30 November 2017 - On Monday 27th of November, the KRG High Council of Women Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as a main partner, and under the auspices of his H.E Mr. Nechirvan Barzani the Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government, launched the national Campaign of 16 Days of Activism Combating Violence against Women in Erbil, Kurdistan region in Iraq.
Under the overarching theme, 'Leave No One Behind: End Violence against Women and Girls", representatives from Kurdistan Parliament, Council of Ministers, the Board of Human Rights, diplomatic missions, United Nations agencies and civil society all attended the event honoring women who were subjected to violence and calling for a non-violent Kurdistan.
Speakers emphasized the importance of protecting women and young girls from different forms of violence. Prime Minister Barzani said: 'Over the past 25 years, we worked incessantly on women rights and social policies in the Kurdistan Region, because we do believe that establishing and maintaining security, equality and justice will form the principal groundwork and the best gateway towards a peaceful and prosperous life ...'.
Representing the United Nations agencies in Iraq, Mr. Ramanathan Balakrishnan, the UNFPA Representative in Iraq, highlighted the importance of prioritizing the end of violent practices in Kurdistan: 'Along with harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation, gender-based violence robs women and girls of their futures and undermine their health and well-being. We call on the regional government, civil society and communities to continue prioritizing the end of violence and harmful practices against women in Kurdistan'. The UNFPA Representative also reminded the duty bearers on the unfinished task of locating the Yazidi girls and women who are yet unaccounted and securing their release.
In her speech, Ms. Pakhshan Zangana the Secretary-General of the Kurdistan High Council of Women Affairs enumerated achievements of women on the political, diplomatic and judicial spheres in the region noting that the challenges to protect women and girls persist requiring stronger cooperation between the government and its partners. Acknowledging the support of UNFPA, she mentioned 'More needs to be done to ensure a protective environment for women in Kurdistan where all their rights are achieved and enjoy equal opportunities to enhance their skills and participate effectively in different aspects of life'.
The Consuls of the United States, France, and Germany and the Head of the European Delegation in Kurdistan also called for protecting women and girls from violence, including child marriage.
The conference concluded with an exhibition of handicraft work by gender-based violence survivors.
For more information or media inquiries, please contact Ms. Salwa Moussa firstname.lastname@example.org@unfpa.org