Sec. Clinton Highlights Importance Of U.S.-Australia Partnership To Reduce Violence Against Women Worldwide

As part of her two-week Asia-Pacific tour, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was in Australia on Saturday, where she called for increased cooperation between Australia and the U.S. to help drive down violence against women globally, Bloomberg reports. “Clinton has stressed throughout her trip that better treatment of, and opportunities for, women improve a nation’s economic and social prospects,” the news service writes (Gaouette, 11/6).

Australia’s “Foreign Minister Rudd and Secretary Clinton issued a joint declaration to combat violence against women globally and to promote women’s empowerment,” according to a State Department press release. “The joint declaration demonstrates U.S. and Australia’s strong support for the new U.N. Women and its leader Michele Bachelet, as well as the joint commitment to garner global support for women’s empowerment,” the release states (11/7).

“Australia will provide 14.5 million to U.N. Women over the next two years with this specific objective in mind: how to reduce globally the scourge of violence and sexual violence against women with a particular emphasis on our own region here in Asia and the Pacific,” Rudd said during joint press conference with Clinton on Saturday, according to a State Department transcript of the event.

“When women are not protected, it undermines families, communities, and even nations,” Clinton said during the press conference. “It also means they are more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. High rates of gender-based violence can contribute to the high rates of HIV among women. That’s why next year the United States will double our funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea to $5 million,” Clinton said, according to the transcript. The State Department transcript also notes Clinton’s comments on the partnerships between the U.S. and Australia on improving global food security (11/6)

“Secretary Clinton’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) will also collaborate with AusAID and the World Bank Group to co-host a policy dialogue in Australia in 2011 on effective means to combat gender-based violence and promote women’s empowerment in the Pacific region,” according to the State Department press release (11/7).

“Australia is the final country on an Asia Pacific tour that has taken Clinton to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Cambodia, China and Vietnam. She is due to return to Washington on Monday via American Samoa,” Agence France-Presse reports (Carmichael, 11/6).

Leaders From 10 Countries Gather For Two-Day Meeting In New York To Discuss Progress, Barriers To Reducing Violence Against Women

Inter Press Service reports on the outcome of a meeting that took place last week in New York, where representatives “from a dozen countries convened … to share their struggles to implement state legislation and empower women at the grassroots level to put an end to gender-based violence (GBV) worldwide” (D’Almeida, 11/5).

The focus of the event, hosted by the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), was “to present lessons from initiating multi-stakeholder joint programming in the 10 select pilot countries under the Inter-agency Task Force on Violence against Women … and to provide a platform for representatives from the 10 pilot countries to share experiences of multi-stakeholder joint programming on this issue,” according to a U.N. description of the meeting (undated).

According to IPS, the pilot programs were launched in Burkina Faso, Chile, Fiji, Jamaica, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Paraguay, Philippines, Rwanda and Yemen. “The two-day consultation covered a lot of ground, touching on everything from Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) to the engagement of men and boys in ending GBV, and ended with several positive conclusions,” the news service writes. “Representatives from each of the pilot countries discussed experiences across a range of regional, religious and cultural realms, highlighting the successes of the programme.” The article describes several initiatives in some of the pilot countries that were discussed at the meeting.

Despite signs of progress in improving conditions for women, “[e]very single country reported a host of barriers to broader implementation of the pilot programme, including consistent lack of funds, disorganisation within U.N. agencies, cultural and governmental blockades – particularly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East – and low awareness on a national level,” IPS writes.

The article includes comments by Aminata Toure, chief of gender, culture and human rights at the UNFPA; Rachel Mayanja, special adviser to the secretary general on gender issues; and Tom Minerson, executive director of the Toronto-based White Ribbon campaign (11/5).

U.N. To Launch Investigation Of Report That Hundreds Of Women, Girls Were Raped Along Angola-Congo Border

U.N. officials on Saturday announced they are looking into reports “that some 700 Congolese women were sexually attacked along the country’s border with Angola,” the Associated Press reports.

Maurizio Giuliano, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, “said the women were among a group of some 7,000 Congolese expelled from Angola in October. He said many women said Angolan soldiers were responsible for their attacks,” the news service adds (Citera, 11/6).

“At least 657 cases of sexual violence involving women and girls were documented in September and October during mass expulsions from Angola to Congo, according to UNICEF … which compiled the case information over the past two months with help from aid agencies on both sides of the border,” CNN writes. According to the news service, “the U.N. plans to send a special mission, comprised of representatives from a variety of aid agencies, to the area next week to talk to community leaders, doctors and humanitarian organizations about the allegations, [a UNICEF] spokesman said” (11/6).

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