Nov 25, 2011

Elimination of Violence Against Minority Women

On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, UNPO publishes a special issue paper and prepares for the 4th Forum on Minority Issues.


On 17 December 1999, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 54/134 that declares 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, after a request made by the representative of the Dominican Republic on behalf of itself and 74 Member States. The General Assembly stated that it was ‘concerned that violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace’ and ‘that some groups of women, such as women belonging to minority groups, indigenous women, refugee women, migrant women, women living in rural or remote communities, destitute women, women in institutions or in detention, the girl child, women with disabilities, elderly women and women in situations of armed conflict, are especially vulnerable to violence’ (Resolution 54/134).


By the text on the International Day, the General Assembly invites worldwide organization of activities on that day to raise public awareness of the problem of violence against women. Many women from UNPO Member communities face very serious situations of conflict and state-sponsored violence, often with little international awareness or recognition of their struggles. Women from UNPO Member communities are also in many cases leaders within their organizations, playing important roles in their campaigns for justice, human rights, peace and democracy. UNPO has found it very important to take an active role in bringing light to these struggles; in line with this, the organization is undertaking a number of activities over the coming days in order to bring greater awareness to the rights of minority women and advocate for the international community to provide support to this often vulnerable group.


The 4th United Nations Forum on Minority Issues, scheduled to be held on the 29th and 30th in Geneva, Switzerland, will focus on the topic ‘Guaranteeing the rights of minority women.’ As explained in the background note by the Independent Expert on Minority Issues, Ms. Rita Iszak; minority women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violation and the denial of their rights in both public and private life. It is crucial that this issue is recognized to ensure adequate response and respect for every member of minority groups, including women.


In order to provide background to the 4th Forum on Minority and to advance the cause of raising public awareness of the stated problem, UNPO publishes a special issue paper today titled: ‘Intersectional Discrimination, Multifaceted Problems: Minority Women, Violence and Peace-building.’


Minority women face intersectional discrimination and multifaceted problems; various systems of inequality and domination create diverse subject positions for women whose experiences are shaped not only by their gender, but also by their ethnicity, language, religion or cultural identity. Minority women stand at the intersection of gender and racial inequality; they are discriminated against because they are women and because they are members of a minority group. The issue paper published by UNPO highlights the specific vulnerable position of minority women in situations of collective violence, their potential role and actual exclusion from peace-building processes, and their lack of access to justice.


In order to add greater depth and a focus on minority women and violence, peace-building and access to justice to the discussions that will be held at the 4th Forum on Minority Issues, the UNPO Issue Paper specifies a list of draft recommendations. For example, UNPO recommends that special attention be paid to women belonging to ethnic and religious minorities and indigenous women with regards to projects and policies concerning international resolutions or action in times of organized armed violence; that Resolution 1325(2000) be expanded to specifically incorporate minority issues; and that agencies, prevailing security actors and systems, and reconciliation and peace-building processes actively target minority women specifically and explicitly before, during and after conflict situations.


Based on past successes at the Forum of Minority Issues, UNPO is organizing a delegation of close to 30 individuals representing ten UNPO Members to attend again this year. Participating Members will travel to Geneva and have the opportunity to make an oral intervention during the session related to the issues facing minority women. Alongside the Forum, UNPO and Minority Rights Group International are hosting a panel discussion on the second day of the Forum entitled ‘Violence against minority women and their access to justice.’


By publishing the special issue paper, attending the 4th Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva, organizing a delegation of Member representatives to speak up during the Forum, and hosting an in-depth side event, UNPO attempts to adhere to the call by the General Assembly to raise public awareness of the problem of violence against women and, as such, contribute to finding solutions.