Friday, April 19, 2013

United Nations, Governments, Civil Society and Nobel Peace Laureates to Work to End Violence Against Women Date : 25 Mar 2013

1 Billion Rising campaign states, "One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime". According to UNDP, 72 million children, 54% of them girls are out of school and about a billion women fall short of economic potential. According to UN Women 50% of women who die from homicides worldwide are killed by their current/former husbands/ partners. Women perform 66% of the world's work, produce 50% of the food, but earn only 10% of the income. The United Nations Commission on Status of Women is entering its 57th year, yet there is no favourable change against Violence Against Women around the world.

At the backdrop of recent rise of women in India and around world on ending violence and the fifty seventh session of UN Commission on Status of Women (CSW), Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network and Control Arms Foundation of India successfully hosted a panel discussion on the theme "Six Decades of UN Commission on Status of Women: Status of Women Now Worldwide and Evolving New Strategies to Ensure Elimination & Prevention of all Forms of Violence against Women and Girls" on 7 March 2013, 1 pm to 3 pm at Geneva Conference Room, Bahai United Nations Office, 866 UN Plaza, Suite 120,New York NY 10017.

The event was chaired by Dip. Minou Tavarez Mirabal, Chair-International Council, Parliamentarians for Global Action. Esteemed panellists of the event included Ms Rashmi Singh, Executive Director, National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Govt of India, Mr Arvinn Eikeland Gadgil, Deputy Minister, International Development, Norway, Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Ms Vanessa Farr, of The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) and Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, Founder, Manipur Gun Survivors Network and Secretary General, Control Arms Foundation of India.

Dip. Minou Tavarez Mirabal addressed that one woman was killed every 36 hours and 67 % of women and girls in cities faced rape and violence. She said, "One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. That cannot be called democracy. I am here as a parliamentarian. Our representative is to look after National Legislation. Around 1000 parliamentarians are working for Global Action on issues of gender violence. Gender equality is linked to all programmes. The ATT convention which we failed last July, we have to fight for that."

Mr Arvinn Gadgil on the outset shared his concerned that if CSW57 fails, it would be a dramatic crisis for the UN. He talked about some leading trends in the world citing that evidence showed that social change leads to increase violence against women. He added that climate change and violence against women were also related citing that increased trafficking and sexual violence against women in the Himalayan region was a result of climate change. He added that building alliances in different levels local, national and international and strategically working together was very much needed to end violence against women.

Ms Rashmi Singh presented Government of India's views at the panel discussion. She stated that violence against women is an obstacle to development, a violation of human rights and fundamental freedom. She added that there was no simplistic solution to end violence against women adding that it needed a multiprompt action. She said that India had ratified International Convention on women and gender issues. She said that gender issues had been included in the Government 5 year plan. She also added that violence is a manifestation of gender equality. She added that violence against women was a global problem and hence building alliances and partnering with networks or organisations was needed to fight the injustice.

Ms Jody Williams said that rape was a global public health crisis that needed urgent attention citing that we had not done enough to respond it. She said, "One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. Nobel Prize can be used as a tool for women empowerment. To address patriarchal structure of power, we established the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict that calls for powerful and urgent leadership on the local, national, regional, and international levels to prevent and stop rape and gender violence and conflict situations. It unites organizations and individuals into a powerful and coordinated effort for change to prevent rape in conflict, to protect civilians and rape survivors, and call for justice for all—including effective prosecution of those responsible."She added that they also needed to address issues of increased militarisation of the planet which needed to be discussed for demilitarisation for bringing peace."

Ms Vanessa Farr stated that global militarisation had a direct impact on increased lethal violence against women worldwide. She questioned why many emerging countries like India were now into arms deals. She emphasised on the direct link between violence against women and global militarisation. "The enemy is poverty. There are no weapon systems in the world to prevent poverty", she explained. Saying no to arms and ending impoverishment are key in this process, Farr said.

Ms Binalakshmi Nepram, hailing from the northeast Indian state of Manipur spoke of her own personal experience emphasising the issue increased violence against women and girl child. She pointed to the state rank of the Department of Women and Child Development in India, and reduction in budget allocated to the department.

The event concluded with the following points:
 Government and civil society should work together to end Violence Against Women.
 The support and the importance of working with parliamentarians around the world is needed to bring the required change. 
The support of Nobel Women Peace Laureates will continue to bring the required change.
 The meeting also called upon nations of the world to look into the issue of growing militarisation, globalisation and related violence against women.
 Most importantly the meeting called upon the prevention of rape in armed conflict zones and to take coordinated action to prevent it. To ensure the armed forces to protect the civilians and not to harm them. To prosecute impunity for rape and gender violence that prevails around the world. To ensure comprehensive justice for all survivors of rape in conflict at local, national and international levels.

The event was ended successfully. Over 60 people attended the event which included governments, civil societies and journalists. The two-hour event focused on the need to prevent violence against women, the role that men need to play in strategies, and demilitarisation.

The United Nation's Commission on Status of Women (CSW), this year the theme is on prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. The Commission, under the UN Economic and Social Council, is in its 57th year. Member countries participate during the ten days and at the end recommendations are made for governments to implement in their respective countries. Apart from the states, NGOs also participated and hold side events.

Link for photos:

For more information, please contact:

Office of Manipur Women Gun Survivors Network & Control Arms Foundation of India.

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