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Panel Discussion VAW

JOINT NORDIC BALTIC STATEMENT, 13 June

I have the honor of making this intervention on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic states.

The severity and magnitude of violence against women cannot be disputed. We thank the global women’s movement and women human rights defenders for their tireless work towards ending violence against women and girls. But today is not a women’s day. It is a men’s day.

Effective gender equality policies rest on the understanding that changing women’s roles and empowering women and girls also means changing men and boy’s roles and empowering them -  in new ways.

Men who are taking their full responsibility in the family though paternity leave will gain from a closer relationship with their children. They will be positive role models for their sons and daughters. Equal sharing of care work is a way of upgrading what is traditionally seen as women’s work.  But it is also an upgrading of fatherhood and expands our notion of masculinity. Men’s sharing of the care work is a prerequisite for women’s full participation in the labour market, thus putting women and men on equal footing.

Understanding and changing the roles of men and women, masculinity and femininity are fundamental for combatting violence against women.

But more targeted efforts are also needed.

Treatment facilities for offenders is important. The institution “Alternative to Violence”, has offered treatment for the past 30 years; to men, or women, who are violent towards their partner. Located in cities in Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, they are also treating children who have experienced violence in their family. It is one way of breaking the circle of violence and silence.

Ending violence against women and girls is not achieved by only pointing at, and mobilising individual men or boys. As long as oppression of women is in the social fabric of our societies, violence against women and girls will continue. It is we, the governments, that must raise the issue as a matter of urgency, and act. For the sake of the human rights of women and girls - and for the sake of our common dignity. In addition to the ethic arguments for eliminating violence against girls and women there is the economic arguments. Our societies gain economically from elimination of violence against girls and women.

Our question to the panel is this: in what way can we engage those groups of men that have the power to influence social change?