Three decades after the first UN World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975, the signs of progress in addressing violence against women are many. An array of international human rights instruments promoting gender equality and women's empowerment have been endorsed and ratified by governments worldwide.
For example, all 10 Asian countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Several countries in East and Southeast Asia have legislation and national action plans to address domestic violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, etc.
This is the result of the tireless efforts of gender equality and women's empowerment advocates, who have striven to promote gender-sensitive policies; strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement system and service providers, as well as build women's capacity to say "no" to violence and to claim their rights and entitlements.
While considerable progress has been made at policy level, progress on implementation and accountability have been slower. This is attributable to complex interacting factors - economic and political structures and processes that further marginalise the vulnerable, more so women; individual and institutional consciousness, cultures and practice that fight change; and a lack of political will to bring erring duty bearers, perpetrators of violence and their abettors to account.
Violence against women in "normal times" is exacerbated during social change or crisis. Current trends in globalisation have created economic opportunities for more privileged women, while drawing large numbers of poor women into the burgeoning unprotected informal manufacturing and service sector, in their own countries and across national boundaries as overseas migrants.
This has resulted in some renegotiation of roles and power balances between men and women that challenge male identity. The stress generated is violently vented on women. In certain contexts modernisation has drawn women out of sex-segregated settings to play more public roles that have often been rejected outright with violence against women to ensure their conformity to tradition.
In conflict zones, women's bodies become "war sites" as men use rape and other forms of violence as a strategy to assert power over, to conquer and annihilate the other side.
Finally, women who have said "no" to discrimination and violence become targets of more violence as a punitive and silencing mechanism.
Ending violence against women needs a transforming of mainstream economic, political and socio-cultural structures and processes. Guided by the Beijing Platform for Action that calls for the engagement of men as partners to end violence against women, Unifem has worked with governments and civil society and with men in different sectors.
With a view to begin engaging men in a co-ordinated way as advocates with women to end violence against them, men from across East and Southeast Asia and Australia will congregate at a regional conference co-organised by Unifem and the government of Thailand in Bangkok on Sept 3-4, to share how in their individual and institutional capacities they have struggled to end violence against women.
Among these partners is:
- Chhay Kim Sore who established the Cambodian Men's Network that seeks to educate Cambodian men to respect women's rights and create a violence-free society. His father, a farmer who he describes as kind and gentle, is his role model.
- Acehnese film director Muhammad Zulfan has been involved in several documentary film projects on women and violence, including a film supported by Unifem on women's political participation.
- In East Timor, father Francisco Jose Baeza of the Tilomar Parish is actively impressing a key message on youth groups in his parish - that real men do not bully girls and women.
- Focusing on women alone leaves male consciousness and practice unaddressed, thwarting the move toward relationships of equality, partnership and mutuality.
Sensitive men who have developed a new gender consciousness, either through engagement with women advocates, witnessing violence against women, understanding oppression through their own experience of class, race, ethnic oppression or inability to conform to dominant male stereotypes, can be effective role models.
With an understanding of the male ethos, they can develop a persuasive language as advocates to demonstrate how as men violently guard narrow male privilege, they seriously compromise their humanity as they perpetuate a culture of violence.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Men Working to End Violence Against Women!
The Bangkok Post published a great article about how men are getting involved in the fight against violence against women! There are a great many movements throughout the world where men are coming together to call for an end to violence against women and this article highlights them and the problems that women currently face around the world... a great read!