Declaration - International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

25 November 2013

Ending gender violence is high on the agenda this International Day to End Violence Against Women – now highlighted every 25 of the month in UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign.

One in three women worldwide experience violence in their lifetime, ranging from 15 to 76 percent depending on where they live, with most violence occurring within intimate relationships, inflicted by a husband or partner. And during armed conflict or natural disaster women’s risk of violence increases, for example 21 per cent of female refugees escaping the Syrian civil war to Lebanon reported violence and seven per cent sexual violence.

In March 2013, Socialist International Women President Ouafa Hajji spoke at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women on the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, and agreement was reached to strengthen legal and policy frameworks, address structural and underlying cause and risk factors, strengthen multi-sectorial services programmes and improve our evidence-base.

Socialist International Women welcomes a G8 agreement in April 2013 on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict that led to agreement by the UK government, the UN and NGOs in November 2013 to provide 20 priority countries with post-rape treatment supplies by 2015; new mass evacuation guidelines; new gender-violence experts in response teams; solar street lamps in camps and settlements; and increased funding for gender-based violence initiatives.

For Socialist International Women, violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination against them. It is a means of controlling women towards a model of gender relations in which women provide unpaid social replenishment to support men’s paid labour. Reduced state provision of services since the global financial crisis means women are often unable to provide this. As pay drops and prices rise, women are increasingly employed for long hours in insecure conditions. Women operating outside traditional unequal gender roles are at risk of violence, for which prevention and protection services have also been cut.

Socialist International Women rejects mythologised roles of inequality as protection from violence, and instead demands political, economic and social gender equality. We highlight UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s statement today that ‘prevention [of violence] must address its root cause: gender inequality’ and supports UN Women’s call for ‘a stand-alone goal on women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality’ in the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals to tackle its glaring omission from the MDGs.

Socialist International Women is dismayed at the rolling back of advances in gender equality since the 2008 economic downturn. Therefore we urge social democratic and socialist governments and parties to promote gender equality in education, political participation and economic empowerment; and tackle the economic context that is hampering gender equality by regulating the international financial services sector to protect innocent populations from the effects of its speculative attacks.

In particular we condemn US Republican opposition to the International Violence Against Women Act to prioritise protection from gender-based violence in US international aid; and call on all governments that have not done so to urgently enact legislation that enforces expeditious justice, reparation from harm and severe punishment of the perpetrators of violence.





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