Gender Based Violence
We have named 2017 as the year of concerted action against gender-based violence, with the Commission on the Status of Women launching a programme to cement its commitment to eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls, to reducing the gender gap of gender inequality with an active call of all stakeholders at local, regional, and national levels and looking at issues to address the funding gap in achieving this important goal.
Gender-based violence is a serious breach of human rights and a devastating form of oppression. Whilst a pressing issue for both sexes, the impact is greater on the lives of women and girls.
The causes of violence against women are both complex and interrelated – often intertwined with structural poverty, lack of education and a culture of economic interdependency. Underreporting and data collection are also some of the most pressing outstanding issues with the vast majority of incidents going unreported. Improvements in data collection in this field will not only assist the development of comprehensive legislation at national and regional level, but also allow professionals to adapt and reinforce support systems desperately needed for victims.
Having worked intensively over two and a half decades at grassroots level and with Gender rights activists across the world to specifically combat female genital mutilation (FGM) and other forms of violence committed against women that are primarily being addressed as cultural norms, rather than as human rights violations this field should remain an important priority area of concern for all governments.
Other additional areas of the scope of our work has included forced and child marriages, denial of reproductive rights, and other violations against women that are a direct consequence of women’s continuous subordinate status. For these violations, specific and effective legislative measures are needed to provide legitimacy, protection and essential legal tools both to women’s rights advocates working to turn the tide of social norms, and to victims and potential victims resisting societal expectations to be silent and acquiesce.
The Global Campaign to Ban FGM
Many important steps have taken place on several divergent fronts to raise International awareness about the need for a United Nations General Assembly Resolution to ban FGM, gather the support and assistance worldwide of human rights activists, women’s organisations, parliamentarians and government representatives..
Unequivocal momentum towards this goal finally came in July 2011 when the African Union Heads of State and Governments agreed to support a Resolution by the United Nations General Assembly.This important decision consolidated the efforts of The African Group at the UN ‘s decision that the issue of FGM, be formally considered by the General Assembly under the agenda item <Advancement of Women>. This CSW recommendation was adopted and requested that the issue of female genital mutilation be added to the agenda of the 67th General Assembly.The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee (commonly referred to as the Third Committee) of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the draft resolution < Intensifying Global Efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilation> On 26 November 2012 thus paving the way to its formal adoption by the 67th General Assembly.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted a Resolution to Ban FGM worldwide on
the 20 December 2012, The Resolution [A/RES/67/146] which was successfully cosponsored by two thirds of the General Assembly, including the entire African Group, and was adopted by consensus by all UN members reflected a universal agreement that female genital mutilation constitutes a serious violation of human rights, which all countries of the world should address through < all necessary measures, including enacting and enforcing legislation to prohibit FGM and to protect women and girls from this form of violence, and to end impunity >.
The Resolution’s adoption is the culmination of years of dedication to the fight to end FGM and in The Gambia further success came in 2016 with it’s official ban by the Government of The Republic of the Gambia.
The adoption of the Resolution and the Ban on the practice of FGM in The Gambia is, however, not an end in itself: it is just the beginning of a new chapter in the fight against FGM. It is now up to all States and all of us to work together, so that the women and girls of tomorrow will be free from the threat of FGM and all forms of gender based violence.
Hon Dr Isatou Touray: Minister for Trade, Regional Integration and Employment