The following post was submitted by Pat O'Brien, Boston WILPF member and Development Chair on the national board. She attended the Expert Group Meeting on "Violence against women: Good practices in combating and eliminating violence against women" at the UN. She was inspired to attend this meeting as a means of advancing a strain of WILPF work that began at last summer's Boston Social Forum.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Cambridge, MA I Just returned from New York where I and other WILPF members Pat Willis, Scott Michaelsen and Minga Claggett-Borne participated in the UN Consultation contribute to the UN Secretary-General's study on all forms of violence against women which was requested on 22 December 2003, by the General Assembly of the United Nations (resolution 58/185). Because WILPF is an NGO (non-governmental organization), as WILPF members, we get to have this kind of access at the UN, and also as members of a women’s organization, we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to participate at the level of the larger picture.
The goals of this UN study are to:
- Highlight the persistence of all forms of violence against women in all parts of the world, and the unacceptability of such violence.
- Strengthen political commitment and joint efforts of all stakeholders to prevent and eliminate violence against women.
- Identify ways and means for better and more sustained and effective implementation of Government commitments and obligations to combat all forms of violence against women, and increase accountability.
So we went to sessions yesterday with women from many NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and UN Offices like International Labor Office and the Office of the High Commission on Human Rights. The day opened with a plenary with panelists who spoke on the themes of Violence against women: links with the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs); and key issues for future action followed by comments and questions from the floor. The panelists highlighted the challenges, as well as opportunities, for linking efforts to combat violence against women with those aimed at achieving the (MDGs). Speakers raised key issues which should be addressed in the Secretary-General’s study, commenting on new and emerging areas that require attention, challenges that prevent the effective implementation of existing standards and laws on violence against women; accountability for action against violence against women; and the responsibility of State and non-State actors. They also talked about areas where further research is necessary to strengthen the effectiveness of policy responses.
Then the participants added examples from their own experience and raised issues they think remain insufficiently addressed in law, policy or at the program level, including resources required for effective work on prevention and service provision.
The panelists: were very impressive and we got to hear some personal experiences (such as testimony from Rwanda Truth and Reconciliation )as well as different perspective of the themes. The afternoon session was divided into 2 working groups where we further discussed the morning’s topics with an eye to organizing information into categories that would be useful for eventually presenting the study to the General Assembly this year.
Minga and I participated in the key issues for future actions working group and we felt that the others in the group were attentive and listened carefully to each other. There was a wide variety of input from diverse sources and the discussion got quite lively at times. For example, a few women stressed the importance of involving the community in the generation of recommendations and data input, while others pointed out the failure of some of the traditional customs like tribal councils consisting of very patriarchial elders. Adjudicating domestic violence situations.
We had contacted the WILPF office 2 weeks ago, and met with Milkah and Samantha from the UN office, who are also working on input for this study. Pat W, Scott and Minga were meeting with them yesterday afternoon after I left to discuss the collaboration on the paper we will submit.
The input for the study will be ongoing until October 15 and is taking several forms. We will submit a paper to be included in the input for the study and there will be some online discussion which will also be included. Minga and I will give a reportback here in our area to generate more interest in both the UN study and in issues of violence against women. I’m hoping both Minga and Pat will contribute to this blog because they have some additional perspectives about this event.
For more information about the study, go to: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/