Saturday, May 08, 2010

Gender Issues: Sweden defends women subjected to sexual violence in conflicts

Source: Government of Sweden
Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Sweden is to host two international conferences that draw attention to sexualised violence against women in conflicts. Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson has taken the initiative for a conference on action against sexualised violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Sida will host a donor conference for UN Action against Sexualised Violence in Conflict (UN Action).

Margot Wallström, the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, is visiting Stockholm. In connection with her visit, Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson will present Sweden s extensive work against gender-based violence against women in conflict.

"Combating violence against women is one of the Government's very highest priorities in development cooperation. That being so, the appointment of Margot Wallström to the newly established UN post of Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict is an especially welcome contribution to this important work," says Ms Carlsson.

Women and security, including combating gender-based violence, is a focus area in the Government s priorities in development policy.

During the spring of 2010, the Government will adopt both a new policy on security and development and a policy on gender equality and the rights and role of women in development cooperation. Both will highlight the situation and role of women in conflict and peace-building.

In addition, two major conferences are being organised this spring. Minister for International Development Cooperation Gunilla Carlsson has issued an invitation to a conference gathering Congolese and international actors in Stockholm on 25-26 May to discuss action against sexual violence in the DRC. This will take place within the framework of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs action plan for the DRC, which concentrates on the areas democracy/governance, human rights with a focus on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820, and security sector reforms. An overarching aim is increased international cooperation to defend positive change in the DRC in these areas.

Later, Sida will host a donor meeting for UN Action in Stockholm in mid-June 2010. UN Action is a coordinating body with representatives from 13 UN entities and works on projects aimed at combating sexual violence in conflict. UN Action is named in UNSC Resolutions 1820 and 1888 as one of the most important UN initiatives in this connection.

The Government's commitments to women and security involve extensive work, not least in the context of its country strategies, particularly those for the twelve countries designated conflict or post-conflict countries. A major focus in these countries is to protect women and girls in conflicts and humanitarian crises, including combating impunity for sexual abuse. Another focus is on creating conditions for women to participate more extensively in peace processes and reconstruction.

In Afghanistan, Sweden is working with UNIFEM and others via a multi-year cooperation programme. The programme includes capacity building, advocacy and prevention of violence against women.

In another example, Sweden will continue to act against sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in cooperation with various actors and networks. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has supported projects aimed at enabling women in North and South Kivu to be active in following up the Goma agreement from 2008. In addition, support has been given to measures to assist women who have been raped so as to enable them to return home.

In winter 2009, the Government adopted a new national action plan for work on UNSC Resolution 1325, including Resolution 1820. Experience shows that when women s organisations take part in peace negotiations and decision-making processes at all levels, the chances of sustainable peace and security for the entire society increase. Sweden therefore works on the assumption that this is a security issue among others in other words, that it is not exclusively a women's issue.

Sweden was one of the first countries in the world to adopt a national action plan in this area and as stated, a new plan was drawn up last year.

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