UN-INSTRAW Director Releases Statement on International Women's Day
Monday, November 27, 2006 10:48 AM

Carmen Moreno, the director for the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW) released this statement on International Women's Day, recognizing the inclusion of military and police as central to combatting violence against women across the globe.

One of every three women in the world has been a victim of violence in her lifetime. Violence against women is one of the four major causes of death on the planet today. Countries where 30 percent of women are being physically injured by their partners are rather the rule than the exception.

Yet, even the most horrific of those statistics still largely underestimates the harsh realities. How many millions of women will never report a case of rape because of their fear of being the ones blamed instead of the perpetrator? How many complaints will never be reported because the police officers refuse to mingle into "domestic matters"? How many crimes against women will remain unpunished because the voice of men is louder than theirs?

Although figures reveal that a majority of the crimes are perpetrated at home, UN-INSTRAW agrees with those who believe that domestic violence goes far beyond the sphere of the household.

When a woman is assaulted, the whole society gets hurt. The enormous costs resulting from violence against women affect us all. Both men and women are part of the problem; both of them must be part of the solution.

Ignoring this problem as a serious crime and human rights violation makes the eradication or even reduction of violence against women impossible. It has become increasingly clear that police and military can play a crucial role in this context, either positive or negative.

Continuous education programs such as gender training sessions aimed towards the security sector's stakeholders, including police officers, military units, lawyers, judges could help to prevent and respond to gendered insecurities and provide a better access to justice for the victims.

Unless police and military are willing and fully equipped to adequately deal with female specific needs, there will be no relief for the millions of women who suffer. Making security institutions our best allies in combating violence against women must be one of the priority concerns of UN agencies, governments and civil society.

It should be unacceptable that those who are educated and trained to protect civilians, especially vulnerable groups, may pose a threat to women's rights and security. The zero tolerance policy towards perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse as well as other forms of gender-based violence is resolutely supported by UN-INSTRAW.

Increasing female recruitment and addressing the under-representation of women in decision-making positions within the security sector could also help achieve more gender sensitivity in the police armed forces and court rooms.

Therefore, UN-INSTRAW is advocating the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 among other binding international agreements concerning women's security.

Having recently published a guide on how to create national action plans for the full implementation of  this resolution INSTRAW gives concrete and practical support to State actors in order to reduce violence against women and to create an environment where men AND women feel safe.

In this context, further cooperation between UN agencies, governments and NGOs is one key for success. A couple of years ago, UN-INSTRAW initiated the creation of a global network on gender and security reform issues.

Now over 150 NGO practitioners, researchers and policymakers regularly post and share information on how to integrate a gender perspective into the policies and institutions that are responsible for the security of nations, communities and individuals.

Earlier this month, UN-INSTRAW and Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) jointly launched a new Gender and Security Sector Reform (SSR) Working Group.

This venue for highly-specialized experts from all over the world plans to develop collaborative projects, such as training materials, reports, workshops and assessment tools in order to mainstream gender issues into SSR.

Furthermore, UN-INSTRAW takes part actively in the sixteen days campaign
on violence against women and produces ongoing research regarding this topic. New publications on violence against women are planned for 2007.

Yet, building bridges between the different stakeholders of the security sector shouldn't stop from raising consciousness at the grassroots level.

On the occasion of the United Nations-backed "16 Days Campaign of Activism to End Violence against Women", UN-INSTRAW joined other UN agencies to sponsor a theatre performance organized by the Women's Minister in the Dominican Republic, country where the three Mirabal sisters were killed more than 45 years ago.

Artistic ways of expression can effectively help gender activists reach a broader audience by conveying the message in a clear, meaningful and eye-catching way.

People must understand that no one is immune when it comes to violence against women. We are all at risk, either being victims or being perpetrators. Every one of us, men and women, can decide to make a difference to end violence against our mothers, our sisters and our daughters.

Published on the WomensUnited Nations Report Network.

For more information contact,

Mr. Laurent Duvillier, Media & Communications Specialist

Tel: 1 809-685-2111 ext. 227