Conference on Combating Violence against Women

Conference on Violence against Women - Photo:Micky Kroell
Thomas Greminger, OSCE Secretary General., Nataliia Fedorovych, Deputy Minister of Social Policy and Labour, Ukraine., Steffen Kongstad, Ambassador and the Permanent Representative of the Norwegian Delegation to the OSCE., Romina Kuko, Deputy Minister of Interior, Albania., Hilde Hardeman, Director/Head of Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), European Commission., Oľga Pietruchová, Director of the Department of Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities of the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and the Family, Slovakia., Dubravka Šimonović, UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences., Alanna Armitage, Regional Director , United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)., Pille Tsopp-Pagan, President, Women Against Violence Europe., Melanne Verveer, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Gender shared their ideas for actions.                          Photo credit: OSCE/Micky Kroell

Representatives of the OSCE participating States and civil society organisations discussed ways to combat violence against women and girls at the conference titled “Commitment – Data – Action! based on the OSCE-led survey ‘Well-being and Safety of Women’” in Vienna.

The conference, which was held on 6 - 7 May 2019, was organised by the OSCE Gender Section in collaboration with the United Nation Population Fund, the United Nations Development Program, UNICEF and UN Women.

The survey “Well-being and Safety of Women” examine the prevalence of various forms of violence against women and girls. This included psychological, physical, and sexual violence, as well as "stalking" and other forms of harassment. The data was sampled by interviewing 15,179 women and girls aged 18 to 74 in the following OSCE participating States: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine. The survey was also conducted in Kosovo and was based on the same methodology as used by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in 2014. This means there are comparable data from 35 countries in Europe.

The main findings of the survey reveal a high prevalence of violence against women. As many as 70 % of the respondents reported having experienced some form of violence, harassment or stalking since the age of 15. The results also show that intimate partner violence is especially widespread; 60 % of the respondents reported being subject to psychological violence from a partner, while 23 % have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of a partner. Furthermore, 45 % have experienced sexual harassment, including harassment on the internet.

The survey is important to the OSCE, as it is the first of its kind to explore the prevalence of violence against women in the OSCE region, beyond the EU. As stated by the OSCE Secretary General, Thomas Greminger: “The survey results are a call for action. The OSCE commitments on preventing and combating violence against women are clear and numerous entry points for action exist. The survey findings can help us to take up the challenge in a more targeted and systematic way”.

At the conference, the participants explored how the findings from the survey can be used by the OSCE to prevent violence against women and girls. They emphasized the need to work at the local level together with civil society in order to develop effective preventive measures. The findings can also be used for awareness-raising campaigns that can inform women about what support services are available if they experience violence. Furthermore, challenging stereotypes and biases through the education system, as well as working with young people, is essential to address women-discriminatory norms and to help women identify abuse.

Gender equality and women’s rights remain a crosscutting priority for Norway. Norwegian funding of the conference and survey demonstrates Norway’s ongoing commitment. Violence against women seriously constraints women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on an equal basis with men. Thus, for half of the population it is a barrier to participate fully in political, economic and public life. Preventing and combating violence against women is furthermore an issue of human rights and security. Not only can violence cause deep personal trauma for the individuals subjected to it, but it also has societal consequences. UN Women has stated that research estimates the cost of violence against women to be around two percent of the global gross domestic product. Such violence has enormous costs for the health, safety and well-being of women and girls.

Norway believes that the elimination of violence against all women and girls cannot be achieved without dedicated and comprehensive political and judicial efforts, in addition to targeted prevention programs that can change public attitude. It is necessary to hold perpetrators accountable and to put an end to impunity. As long as the systematic discrimination of women and girls remains embedded in the social fabric of our societies, it is not possible to effectively prevent and respond to the violence against them. As a staunch supporter of the rights of women and girls, Norway will continue to work for and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

 

To read the survey, please see the link below

OSCE-Led Survey on Violence Against Women.pdf