Oslo Conference Could Serve As Opportunity To Strengthen Response To Sexual, Gender-Based Violence In Conflict

The Guardian: The world over, people in crisis suffer sexual violence — this scourge must end
Natalia Kanem, executive director of UNFPA, and Mark Lowcock, U.N. under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator

“…The U.N., governments, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and civil society organizations are coming together in Norway this week for a first-of-its-kind conference on ending sexual and gender-based violence in humanitarian crises. The aim is to strengthen collective responsibility, promote best practices, and increase funding and political commitment to prevention and effective response. … For survivors and their communities, the devastating consequences of sexual and gender-based violence include injuries, unwanted pregnancies, fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, trauma, and death. … Yet our interventions during humanitarian crises remain chronically underfunded … Our strategy to address these shortcomings requires three steps. First, we must put survivors … at the center of our crisis response. … Second, we need to focus on prevention and address gender inequality, the root cause of gender-based violence, which is magnified during humanitarian crises. … Third, more needs to be done to hold perpetrators to account…” (5/23).

Washington Post: How do you reduce sexual and gender violence in conflict? Consider these five key issues.
Chen Reis, clinical associate professor and director of the Humanitarian Assistance Program at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and Marie E. Berry, assistant professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver and director of the Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative

“…The conference in Oslo could help the conversation on sexual violence in conflict return to focusing on survivors and grass-roots activists. Here are five key issues to keep in mind. 1. The Trump administration is backing away from advocating for women’s rights … 2. Language in high-level forums doesn’t always translate to impact on the ground … 3. Shifting language from ‘women and girls’ to include ‘men and boys’ sounds good but can backfire … 4. A narrow focus on perpetrators rather than survivors. … 5. Making room for grass-roots and feminist approaches … The Oslo conference could contribute by resisting efforts to erase women’s needs and rights. It can encourage governments, U.N. agencies, and other organizations to focus on supporting survivors and grass-roots activists, ensuring that services are available and establishing accountability mechanisms for those efforts” (5/22).

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