National Conference on Gender Based Violence
Zineb Touimi Benjelloun,United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
This National Conference on violence against women, marking the end of this year’s 16 days of activism against gender based violence is an opportune moment for us to underline today “International Human Rights Day” that women’s rights are in fact human rights. The focus of this conference on the involvement of men and boys in ending violence against women shows that we have graduated to another stage in our understanding of the root causes of this phenomenon. Indeed, there is a growing consensus that we need to reach out to a broader range of stakeholders for its resolution.
Gender-based violence is recognized as a global problem. And it is not a problem for women and girls alone, although they are most affected. It is a problem for boys and men as well, a problem for every family, community, state, region and the entire world. The UN Secretary General describes GBV as “an appalling violation of human rights”.
For many years, primarily women activists tried to address the causes and consequences of violence against women. All too often, boys and men have been viewed as part of the problem, while not sufficiently leveraging on their potential for contributing to the solution. All of us, men and women alike are both part of this problem and have the potential to contribute to end violence against women.
In his message on the occasion of the International Day against Violence against Women, the UN Secretary General pointed out and I quote: “we must fundamentally challenge the culture of discrimination that allows violence to continue”. [End quote] Indeed, it is the culture of discrimination and the lower status of women in almost every society that fuels gender-based violence; not poverty, lack of education or alcohol and substance abuse, as it is widely believed.
Stereotypical perceptions of what constitutes a real man turns some boys and men into aggressors and abusers. Luckily, the ranks of those who believe in the fight against this widespread, debilitating and resource-consuming problem, namely gender based violence are growing and getting stronger.
The United Nations is supporting the Government of Albania to strategically engage men and boys in addressing gender-based violence. For instance, UN Women, UNDP and UNFPA are partnering with civil society organisations to intensify their advocacy work targeting men and boys, particularly during these 16 days of activism against gender based violence. Peer education activities are organised in several secondary schools; pathways to peace and non-violence are staged around communities; postcards and posters are being painted and messages developed by young men; distinguished male figures are appearing in media to convey the message that a real man does not hurt the woman he loves, but respects her as his equal.
As part of our efforts to raise awareness of the UN Secretary General’s UNiTE campaign, we will continue to support and spread the campaign throughout the year, particularly with every 25-th day of each month dedicated to messages calling for an end to violence against women.
Before concluding, I would like to express my appreciation for the hard work of the Network against Gender-based Violence and Trafficking in Albania supported by the UN Trust Fund on Violence Against Women for their engagement in the global movement for more partners to challenge the beliefs, values and social norms that condone gender inequality and violence.
Finally, I would also like to commend the commitment shown by the Prime Minister and Minister Ksera, and I am sure that other speakers, men, fathers and officials in this conference will also commit to end violence against women and advance gender equality in both their official and personal capacities. The UN stands ready to support you in all of your efforts.