Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ending violence against women – are we there yet?

Daniela Rosche is Oxfam Novib's Policy & Advocacy Advisor on Women's Rights and Gender Justice. Here, she writes from the UN's 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women and asks if we are doing enough to end the scourge of violence against women.
Just before the beginning of the annual meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women here in New York, I was reading the blog of someone who was wondering whether we should abolish International Women's Day. Do we still need a day like International Women's Day, she was wondering? Yes, we do. And when it comes to the elimination of violence against women (VAW), we actually need more than one International Women's Day a year, we should have one at least once a month. Why?
More than one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Still, in 2014, more than one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. In its landmark report in 2013, the World Health organization (WHO) estimated that 35% of women  globally will experience violence. Regional variations exist but they are not huge: . in Europe an average of 25.5% of women will be affected, whilst in South East Asia 37.7% will experience violence. What the WHO data is also saying overall is that more than one billion women worldwide will experience VAW.
In a new Oxfam briefing note (Close the Gap: How to eliminate violence against women beyond 2015) released today, we are discussing why one in three women worldwide still subjected to violence? Are we doing enough to change this situation?
The scourge of violence against women points to a huge global gender gap. A gender gap that is not only unacceptable, because violence against women is a fundamental human rights issue, but on e that is also holding back the building of equal and just societies. In its 2012 World Development Report, the World Bank identified VAW as a key issue that holds back societies from full development and growth for all, and gender equality for women.
The root causes of violence are also the root causes of discrimination, marginalization and inequality.
The root causes of violence are also the root causes of discrimination, marginalization and inequality. Unequal gendered power relations manifested in discriminatory laws, norms, standards and practices have been identified as one of the factors leading to violence, poverty and inequality. In everyday life, these factors are key to understanding the stereotypical attitudes and beliefs about gender roles and identities through which violence is perpetuated. For example, in South Asia men admitted to raping their intimate partners, often their spouses, because they felt it was their right to have sex without the consent of women.
The belief in women's subordination is also linked to impunity for men using VAW. Violence at the household level has an enormous impact on the level of acceptance of violence and its reproduction from generation to generations.  Together with a lack of formal gender equality it makes VAW acceptable.
Here at the 58th meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women which began today in New York, governments are discussing the gaps in the implementation of the MDGs and lessons learnt from that for a future post 2015 development agenda. The post-2015 development agenda provides an opportunity to take a much needed first step towards tackling VAW. Oxfam has called for a stand-alone gender equality goal accompanied by a specific target to eliminate VAW.
In order to fully eliminate violence beyond 2015, Oxfam has proposed a Comprehensive International Action Plan. Oxfam believes such a plan could provide a due diligence blueprint for comprehensive and co-ordinated action by states to eliminate VAW. An international plan of action would also present a much needed roadmap for taking forward interventions by operationalizing them and establishing urgently needed monitoring mechanisms, such as timelines and targets to track progress in this area.
Many more International Women's Days are needed to talk about VAW and what needs to be done about. So no, we're not quite there yet.
Oxfam Novib is a member of WO=MEN Dutch Gender Platform. See the original post on the website of Oxfam.