The second Human Dimension Supplementary Meeting for 2018, organized by the Italian OSCE Chairmanship, with the support of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and in co-ordination with the Gender Section of the Office of the OSCE Secretary General, held in Vienna on 2 and 3 July 2018, was devoted to the topic Countering Violence against Women – Everyone’s Responsibility. It gathered representatives of OSCE participating States, civil society and international organizations to discuss current challenges and good practices in preventing and countering violence against women in the OSCE region.
“Promoting the empowerment of women and fighting gender-based violence are deeply intertwined,” said Ambassador Alessandro Azzoni, Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Italy to the OSCE. “The recognition of women as political, economic and social subjects can help to prevent and counter violence against them.”
Among other topics, participants discussed mechanisms bringing together police and civil society organizations to provide support to the victims and raise awareness of the root causes of violence.
Amarsanaa Darisuren, OSCE Senior Adviser on Gender Issues, said: “While the manifestations of violence and discrimination against women and girls might change over time, the root causes of gender-based violence against women have proven to be deeply ingrained in our societies.”
The participants also noted that inequality and violence are not experienced in the same way by all women. For instance, women belonging to minority groups often face multiple forms of discrimination, which exacerbate their experience of violence. It is therefore necessary to adopt approaches that take into account the diversity of experiences, the participants said.
“An inclusive approach is necessary if we are serious about changing this situation,” said Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, ODIHR Director. “As the OSCE, we need to work with lawmakers, politicians and law enforcement agencies, with prosecutors and judges, with the media, with religious leaders and – last but not least – with civil society, including at the grassroots level.”
The need to overcome traditional barriers to reporting violence, speaking up and denouncing it was therefore highlighted as critical to uncovering and preventing violence.
“The #MeToo movement has firmly put sexual harassment and assault on the policy agenda. It set off a vital global conversation, and the game-changing momentum, led by brave women, continues,” said Purna Sen, UN Women Director of Policy Division and Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Addressing Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Discrimination, in her keynote address. “A door has been opened for real change in our attitude towards sexual violence, in particular in workplaces. Our task is to stand up to this challenge.”
The second day of the event will be dedicated to discussing violence against women in public and political life, the role of the judiciary, and protection and empowerment measures.