Friday, February 29, 2008

Indicators help eliminate violence against women

Women’s organizations have carried the burden of stopping violence against women(VAW) for long enough. This was the general agreement at a high level round table on indicators to measure VAW held yesterday afternoon. The consensus is: it is up to governments to implement measures to stop VAW. The delegates on the floor at the UN say that it is not enough to support rape crisis centers, finance research, or reform violators. VAW is a crisis in society. Drastic measures are needed to stop it.

To support States in researching VAW the government statistician of Ghana is leading a UN effort to develop baseline studies on the incidence and extent of violence. But will the States undertake this research? The precariously funded national statistical offices will only do this work if their governments ask them to prioritize it. Will that happen?

It is good that States take on their responsibility. But it is going hand in hand with cutbacks in funding to civil society organizations. A likely scenario is this: women's organizations are de-resourced; government financed institutions are told to do their best to prioritize eliminating VAW. The institutions do not make VAW part of their strategic business plan. The champions of eliminating violence against women are under-sourced and are no longer meeting with mainstream actors. Expertise is lost. The baby is thrown out with the bathwater. VAW continues unabated.

The problem of losing expertise would be somewhat alleviated if adequately financed women’s information organizations store and make available the knowledge that has been generated. Unfortunately, women’s information organizations are finding it particularly difficult to access financial resources. At the CSW, women's information organizations are lobbying to ensure that agreements on resourcing the equality agenda includes resourcing both civil society organizations and women’s information organizations. The governments should and must take on their responsibility, but with sensible planning of their change strategy and with resourcing of expertise.

Lin McDevitt-Pugh - IIAV

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