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Nordic-Baltic Statement on Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women

Panel 1: The impact of violence against women human rights defenders and women’s organizations in digital spaces. Statement, 21 June 2018.

As delivered by Sweden on behalf of Nordic-Baltic Countries

Mr./Mme. Chair,

I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark,  Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway Sweden and my own country Estonia.

Gender-based violence is a global plague, stemming from systematic discrimination against women and girls. It occurs in all spaces and spheres of human interaction. It is a persistent influence in our societies and reinforces gender stereotypes and behavior. Such violence is, in itself, a grave violation of human rights, but it also effectively denies half of the world’s population the enjoyment of other human rights.

Online gender-based violence is posing an ever growing challenge and a limitation to women’s and girls’ use of the internet, including for the purposes of political participation, freedom of expression and access to services and information.

Women human rights defenders and women’s organizations are particularly targeted by online violence and harassment.

In the end, this is an issue of democratic governance: it must be seen in the context of the globally shrinking democratic and civic space. The spread of repressive legislation, restricting administrative measures and harassment, limits freedom of expression and women’s and girls’ ability to participate in society. It also limits their chances to influence decision-making and, ultimately, undermines the very foundation of democracy.

A multidimensional approach to tackle online gender-based violence is needed. All stakeholders have a role; governments, businesses and civil society including human rights defenders. States have an obligation to prevent violence and harassment of women and girls everywhere, including online. This should include measures to curb incitement to hatred and violence and online sexual harassment.  Together we develop the framework, content and common standards of the internet.

We would be keen to hear the views of the panel on how such multi-stakeholder formats could most effectively be established?

I thank you.