The 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women has taken place in New York over the last two weeks.
Amongst the agreed conclusions, Imkaan particularly welcomes conclusions that promote equal access to education, encourage appropriate responses to VAWG by statutory services, recognise the specific needs of women in conflict and post-conflict situations, migrants, and women with HIV, and the important role of the media and ICT in eliminating VAWG:
- The acknowledgement of the important role of prevention and elimination of discrimination.
- The right to education as a human right, and the elimination of illiteracy, ensuring equal access to education, in particular in remote and rural areas and closing the gender gap at all levels of education, empowers women and girls and thereby contributes to eliminating all forms of discrimination and VAWG.
- The commission urges states to strongly condemn all forms of VAWG and to refrain from invoking custom, tradition or religion to avoid their obligations as set out in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women.
- Ensure women and girls access to justice and effective legal assistance and processes.
- Develop and implement multisectoral national policies, strategies and programmes with the effective participation of women and girls which include measures for prevention, protection, support services, data collection, research, monitoring and evaluation and national benchmarks for results to be achieved.
- Adopt and fund policy reforms and programmes, and support education to train and strengthen the capacity of the judiciary, police, military, those working in education, health, social welfare, justice, defence and immigration; hold public officials accountable for not complying with laws and regulations related to VAWG.
- Recognise the important role of the media in the elimination of gender stereotypes and in promoting non-discriminatory and gender-sensitive reporting, and in improving public awareness on VAWG, to train those who work in the media and to develop and strengthen self-regulatory mechanisms to promote balanced and non-stereotypical portrayals of women as creative human beings, key actors and contributors to and beneficiaries of the process of development.
- Support the development and use of ICT and social media as a resource for the empowerment of women and girls including access to information on prevention and responses to VAWG and mechanisms to combat the use of ICT and social media to perpetrate sexual harassment, exploitation, child pornography, trafficking, cyber stalking and bullying.
- Adopt and implement measures to ensure the social and legal inclusion and protection of women migrants, including women migrant workers.
- Eliminate discrimination and violence against women and girls living with HIV.
- Ensure that in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, sexual and gender based violence are prioritised and addressed through investigation, prosecution and punishment of perpetrators to end impunity and remove barriers to women’s access to justice. This includes establishing mechanisms of complaint and reporting, access to health care, including sexual and reproductive health services.
The CSW conclusions provide a critical opportunity for states to implement, strengthen and monitor the work to eliminate and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls. The UK Government has been participating in these discussions and we hope to see targeted efforts from government to ensure that the conclusions are adopted to strengthen existing work on VAWG in the UK.