Women: Violence against Women Stakeholder’s Forum
Statement by H.E. Herman Schaper
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations
at the Violence against Women Stakeholder's Forum
New York, 13 December 2012
Thank you, madam/mister chair, for giving me the floor. And let me start with expressing my appreciation to UN Women, for organizing this forum on violence against women.
Our panel discussion today on global commitment is both important and timely. It is important, because too many women and girls continue to face violence worldwide. And it is timely, with the 57th session of the CSW only a few months away.
Violence against women is not a phenomenon which limits itself to a specific country, culture or economic situation. Rather, it is a phenomenon which affects women and girls of all sorts and kinds, rich and poor, young and old, worldwide.
Also in my very own country, violence against women remains a matter of concern. Domestic violence for instance, is an issue where further progress must, and can be made. Its persistence is intolerable.
For that reason, domestic violence and other forms of violence against women have been a priority issue in the Dutch policy framework for a long time. Effectively addressing it requires not only political commitment; it also requires comprehensive and concrete action, and the participation of all stakeholders.
Since 2004 the Netherlands has for instance been actively supporting the WE CAN campaign, which aims to eradicate violence against women, including domestic violence, worldwide. Through the use of change makers, the campaign successfully stimulates a person-to-person change reaction, thereby creating a broad social movement to stop violence. The approach is not only considered to be best practice in fifteen municipalities in the Netherlands, it has also proven to be successful in other countries, such as in India, where we have supported the national campaign from the outset.
What we preach at home, is also what we advocate abroad. Violence against women has also been a priority within the Dutch foreign policy for many years now. And so has the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights, which is of crucial importance in the efforts to eradicate violence against women.
The biannual General Assembly resolution on violence against women, the last one having been adopted recently, is one such way through which we seek to increase international political commitment. The high interest in the negotiations on the resolution this year, reflects that there is a widespread feeling of urgency within the UN membership on the matter.
We also give body to our political commitment through financial support. For instance through the yearly contribution of two million euros to the UN Violence Against Women Trust Fund, which has been counting on our support for many years now.
Another important example of political, and even legal commitment, is the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. It calls not only to prevent such violence, but also to protect victims and to prosecute perpetrators. And it makes clear that such violence can no longer be considered a private matter; it is also states which have obligations to fulfill.
The key achievement of the international community is that it has successfully put violence against women on the agenda, and that it continues to work on strengthening the normative framework.
And indeed, progress has been made, also on the ground. More girls go to school, more women speak up and men increasingly recognize the need for strong, independent and empowered women.
Promising, yet the challenges remain. Perhaps the biggest of all challenges is to change the narrative regarding women and violence. No longer portraying them as victims, but rather as enterprising, powerful and courageous members of society that can change their own destiny and that of others. A difficult and long process, but one which we need to support and accelerate.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against women, CEDAW, does not mention violence at all. A huge omission. It is therefore that the CEDAW-committee issued general recommendation 19 in 1992, linking gender based violence directly with discrimination. Because under the different conventions, member states are obliged to act against discrimination in all its forms. That is exactly why in this year’s Violence against Women resolution form the NL and France, we state that gender based violence constitutes a form of discrimination.
Some people are calling now for an additional protocol to the CEDAW-convention specifically focused on violence against women. An interesting idea that deserves looking further into.
The desired outcome for the CSW is, first and foremost, that we will have agreed conclusions. After this year's failure, as well as that of 2005, where the theme was also violence against women.
Secondly, broadly supported conclusions that will make a difference in every day life for women. We should focus on the practicality of the measures, meaning are they implementable or not? This topic is too important to be politicized...though I realize that is difficult here in the UN with only government officials!
Our hopes for the upcoming CSW are therefore not only that the existing political commitment is further reinforced, but also that concrete and workable solutions are offered. Such can only be the case if we listen. Listen to both women and men. So that what we commit to, is actually relevant on the ground.