Technical Group Meeting on Gender Based Violence and the Kick-off Event for Celebrating 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women 2021
Opening Remarks by Pauline Tamesis, the UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia
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Her Excellency Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi Minister of Women’s Affairs
Mr. Pablo Kang, Australian Ambassador to Cambodia
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the Technical Working Group on GBV,
On behalf of the United Nations in Cambodia, it is a privilege to join this important Technical Group Meeting on Gender Based Violence and the kick-off event of the 16 days of activism to end violence against women.
Let me start with this phrase “Violence against Women and Girls is unacceptable at any time!” Be it during a crisis, a pandemic, or in times of peace.
I am pleased that the Royal Government of Cambodia has endorsed the National Action Plan for Prevention of Violence Against Women 2019-2023 (NAPVAW III). I was honored to be speaking at the launch event earlier this year.
This action plan recognizes that violence against women violates human rights and all forms of gender discrimination, resulting from unequal power relations.
Indeed, violence against women is the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse of our time.
- It takes many forms – sexual, physical, emotional and economic.
- It takes place in public spaces and in the intimacy of one’s home.
- It takes place during conflict and humanitarian settings and in times of peace.
- It knows no geographical boundaries, no age limit, no class distinction, no race, and no cultural differences.
Global evidence showed that during the COVID-19 pandemic, gender-based violence increased. The UN Secretary General called for a “ceasefire at home” and urged all governments to make prevention and redress of violence against women and girls a key part of national response plans for COVID-19.
A new report from UN Women, based on data from 13 countries since the pandemic, shows that 2 in 3 women reported that they or a woman they know experienced some form of violence and are more likely to face food insecurity. Only 1 in 10 women said that victims would go to the police for help.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The end violence against women we need to take action together. The pandemic has forced us to be more creative in preventing and responding to VAW.
The Technical Working Group on Gender (TWGG)-Gender Based Violence (GBV) is an important coordination mechanism under the leadership of Ministry of Women’s Affairs with technical support from UNFPA and UN Women. It gives us a platform to come together to fight against Gender Based Violence.
The first key strategy of the NAPVAW III is Prevention. Gender-based violence is neither natural, nor inevitable. It can and must be prevented.
Efforts should be concentrated on system strengthening and coordination across sectors. For instance, ending violence against women cannot be achieved without also addressing violence against children in an integrated and coordinated manner.
Significant gaps exist in the law that contribute to existence of violence against women; amendment of the domestic violence law is important.
Second – respond. In a victim centered way. Law enforcement, judicial, legal, and social welfare services should all be readily available for survivors to ensure their safety and healing. Yet, in Cambodia often it takes too long time to trial, and victim blaming in still the case.
Every time a woman speaks up about her experience of sexual violence and she’s not believed, the cycle of abuse continues. Every time you hear a survivor’s story: 1-Listen. 2-Believe. 3-Support.
Third – collect data. Data is crucial to an evidence-based approach to violence against women and girls. The UN family is supporting the Government to collect that data as evidence base that will help deal with the root causes. You will hear more about big data on VAW from UNFPA today.
Fourth - Fund: Preventing and responding to gender-based violence cannot be done without priority funding for it. How can we mobilize additional resources? How can the Government prioritize VAW interventions?
Fifth – and most important – participation. Empower women and girls and include them in decision making. From representation of women in parliaments and in the courts to board members in companies and local community-based organizations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In closing, Violence Against Women cuts across all of our work and negatively impacts women and girls’ lives, public health, economic development, and whole of societies.
Stopping this violence starts with believing survivors, adopting comprehensive and inclusive approaches that tackle the root causes, transform harmful social norms, and empower women and girls. Together we can make it happen.