By DER SPIEGEL, GIANNA SCHWANECKE (Expository)
Violence against women remains a global issue for economic powerhouses and developing nations alike. Today, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) began discussing how to best address this issue which plagues one in three women worldwide.
Debate opened with delegates choosing to discuss the “Question of Violence Against Women” over matters pertaining to “Gender Inequality in the Workplace.” While gender discrimination remains at the core of each issue, delegates prioritized discussing the different ways in which violence against women is perpetuated.
The United Nations (UN) defines violence against women as ‘’any act which causes of gender-based violence that results in or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, mental harm or suffering by women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life’’. Two main forms of gendered violence are recognized by the UN: intimate-partner violence and sexual violence. Both have equally devastating impacts on the individual female victims and society as a whole.
This broad definition of “violence against women” highlights the challenges delegates today face in creating a comprehensive resolution to address the many forms of violence against women.
While women are more vulnerable to instances of violence than their male counterparts, there are many other factors which also increase the risk of being exposed to gendered violence. Lower levels of education and a history of domestic abuse can be linked to both victims and perpetrators.
Those in areas of war or conflict in particular are also at greater risk of sexual violence.
The delegation from the Syrian Arab Republic was quick to draw attention to the role of gendered violence in conflict zones. Similar sentiments were expressed by Belarus.
Delegates showed a good understanding of how gendered violence occurs, but many struggled to provide solutions to prevent acts of violence and overcome this issue.
Several delegates emphasized the importance of involving men in discussing gender-based violence and ultimately working find a solution. The delegate from the United Kingdom drew attention to the recent He for She campaign which received support from UN Ambassador for Women, Emma Watson.
Violence against women perpetuates traditional constructs of gender roles and further asserts male dominance. It is a vicious cycle which furthers female subordination. Delegates will need to work together to develop strategies and systems that address the needs of current victims and change the pervasive culture that has allowed such heinous acts to occur.