WILPF Statement on the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

Monday, July 26 2010

November 2005

The 25th of November is the date of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. On that day the 15th annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence start and continue until the 10th of December, the United Nations International Human Rights’ day. The observance began at the first Feminist Eucuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Bogota, Colombia, in 1981. In 1999 the United Nations officially recognized the observance.

We are in the year of Beijing +10; 180 countries have now ratified the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and, we have just celebrated the 5th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

All this indicates that women’s rights should be respected. All over the world violence against women is nevertheless increasing – in families, in society and most of all during war and armed conflict.

Every day we get horrifying examples of that increase in violence:

Violence against women in war areas has, according to UNDP, reached epidemic heights. The common denominator for the 1990’s conflicts and the conflicts in this millennium has been comprehensive sexual abuse, forced pregnancy as a tool in ethnic genocide, kidnapping, intentional infection with HIV/AIDS and trafficking in women and children for sexual purposes.

Change in the pattern of sex roles is one of the consequent conditions in a country in conflict, war or under occupation. Violence and aggression get integrated in everyday life. When killing becomes legitimate, it also becomes legitimate to rape or buy and sell human bodies, and a systematic brutalization of the whole society will occur. The brutalization and the change in the pattern of sex roles will constitute numerous and grave assaults on women who are abused by family members as well as by unknown men, civilians as well as soldiers.

In Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom we have testimonies from women in many countries in war, crises or conflict. And we know from them that women’s conditions have deteriorated and their rights are under pressure. Furthermore, the militarization of societies generates violence against all people; violence against women is extensive and varied in its manifestation. Everywhere women are working for respect of their rights and for better conditions.

Five years ago the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. Here the Council focused on the impact of war and conflict on women’s and girls’ lives. Furthermore it recognized that the contributions of women in negotiation processes and decision making are underestimated and not utilized, and it underlined that women ought to be recognized as active and full parties.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom calls on all UN member states and all UN bodies to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 as one of the means to act against gender violence.

For further WILPF resolutions and statements please visit: http://www.wilpf.int.ch/statements/sindex.htm

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