Speakers at Commission on Status of Women Highlight Progress on Promoting Anti-Violence Strategies across All Spheres
Commission on the Status of Women
7th & 8th Meetings (AM & PM)
Expert Panel: Post-2015 Development Agenda Must Challenge ‘Narrow’
Millennium Goals, Place Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment at Its Core
Despite shrinking budgets and often-conservative political agendas, Governments throughout the world were making significant strides in expanding multisectoral approaches to eliminate violence against women, characterized by a range of integrated services to prevent abuse and support survivors, speakers said today as the Commission on the Status of Women continued its general debate.
Those efforts, many delegates said, included improvements to legislation and police procedure, better mental health care, the creation of shelters — staffed by a diverse set of experts — 24-hour hotlines, and importantly, stronger punishment for perpetrators. Given the magnitude of the problem, collaboration across sectors was vital for maximizing expertise and resources. It also was critical to involve, throughout the process, civil society actors working at the frontlines, especially to tackle domestic abuse.
On that point, Rossana Hermoza, Vice-Minister for Women Equality and Non-discrimination in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs of Paraguay, said that in her country, a registry for victims of domestic violence interacted with the national police, as well as the ministries of women, health and justice, to process data on the incidence of violence. A free, 24-hour “SOS” hotline also had been set up to ensure a rapid response to any complaint of abuse, while a residence for victims provided comprehensive psychological, legal, health and social assistance.
In a similar vein, Sheila Roseau, Executive Director of the Directorate of Gender Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda, said her Government’s integrated, multi-agency approach linked the judicial, health and social services sectors, as well as the community, in responding to gender crimes. With help from UN-Women, it was training police to exercise gender-responsive sexual assault and domestic violence protocols to ensure that survivors were provided with appropriate support from advocates and counsellors immediately after the reporting of crimes.
Sofia M. Simba, Minister for Community Development, Gender and Children of the United Republic of Tanzania, said a multisectoral strategy and response services had been established both on the mainland and in Zanzibar. Within the police force, a female network now assisted victims of gender violence, while other programmes targeted women’s access to legal services. In one unique initiative, an all-female team had recently completed the “Mount Kilimanjaro Climb” to urge an end to violence against women and girls through holistic polices, services, laws and public campaigns.
Providing a European perspective, the representative of Austria said his Government’s comprehensive approach focused in large part on domestic abuse, with a “Protection against Violence Act” that entitled police to evict perpetrators from the home shared with the victim. “This law makes clear that domestic violence is not a private matter,” he said. Intervention centres throughout the country then contacted victims to offer assistance. A legal obligation also had been introduced to establish protection groups for domestic violence victims in hospitals.
Highlighting the right of girls to education — which many delegates said was critical to preventing abuse — Shaigan Shareef Malik, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Human Rights of Pakistan, said “Malala Day” would be celebrated annually on 10 November to honour Malala Yousafzai and her campaign to respect Pakistani girls’ rights to attend school. While the “despicable” attack against her had “shaken the world’s conscience”, it also had shown the resilience of Pakistani society against such forces of despotism.
Also today, the Commission held a panel discussion that examined gender equality issues to be reflected in the post-2015 development framework, during which two experts discussed the elaboration — through various and simultaneous processes — of that framework and the related Sustainable Development Goals called for by “Rio+20”, the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.
In the ensuing discussion, a number of delegations agreed that promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment must be at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda. Many stressed that the current Millennium Development Goals had failed to effectively address the underlying structural causes of gender inequality, and called instead for ambitious, easy-to-comprehend and measurable gender-related targets post-2015.
Also speaking during today’s general discussion were ministers and high-level officials from Denmark, Angola, Azerbaijan, Greece, Czech Republic, Peru, Panama, South Sudan, Argentina, Cambodia, Sudan, Lithuania, Thailand, Qatar, Slovenia, Latvia, Vanuatu, United Kingdom and Indonesia.
The representatives Bosnia and Herzegovina, Japan, Switzerland, Chile, Cuba, Colombia, Seychelles and Croatia also participated.
An official from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission addressed the meeting, as did a representative of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women.
The Commission will next convene at 10 a.m. on Monday, 11 March.