Friday, September 22, 2023

UN Women hosts event to prevent violence against women

News Desk :

UN Women Bangladesh held a learning-sharing event at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) today showcasing the remarkable results achieved by the Combatting Gender-Based Violence (CGBV) project.

Funded by the government of Canada, the project aimed to develop effective strategies for preventing violence against women (VAW) in the country. Through extensive research, monitoring, impact evaluation, and innovative approaches, the project has made significant strides in promoting institutional and behavioural change, leading to a violence-free environment.

According to global data, approximately 736 million women, nearly one in three, have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence at least once in their lives.

In Bangladesh, at least 50% of women have faced physical or sexual violence from their male counterparts during their lifetimes, according to UN Women in Bangladesh.

Recognising the cost-efficiency of prevention programming on gender-based violence compared to response efforts, UN Women has been implementing the CGBV project since 2018.

One notable outcome highlighted during the event was the Evidence (Amendment) Act 2022, as presented by the Programme Coordinator, Shrabana Datta.

Through concerted advocacy by civil society, women rights activists, and the Rape Law Reform Coalition which was supported by UN Women, the law now prohibits the questioning of a rape survivor’s character during cross-examinations and allows the submission of digital evidence in court.

Md Muhibuzzaman, additional secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, said, “The more we involve men in these programs, it will be easier for us to achieve equality and reduce violence.”

He added, “We want to work together – government, non-profit organizations and civil society organizations. We want to involve everyone in the process of reducing VAW.”

Furthermore, the results highlighted the institutionalisation of the Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment policy in 12 public and private workplaces, the establishment of 15 Complaint Committees in educational, public, and private institutions, and the formation of an additional 78 committees in compliance with the High Court Directive of 2009.

Applauding UN Women’s efforts, Lilly Nicholls, high commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh, who was present as the chief guest, said, “The project was exceptional in terms of achievement in such a short period of time. We have to work in a holistic fashion, we have to work in coalition, with an intersectional approach, which means we have to include people of every gender and belief to achieve change.”

Over the course of five years, the CGBV project has worked with families, communities, and public and private institutions to transform mindsets and behaviours and prevent violence against women.

The project has utilised globally adapted prevention models, including the community mobilization approach known as SASA! Together and the family-based prevention approach called Shomman O Shomotar Jeebon.

Former adviser to the caretaker government, Sultana Kamal said, “We have to create a culture of good humanity and belief. If we can do that, only then we will be able to reduce violence against women in numbers.”

“Prevention works. We need to scale up investments in prevention efforts. The time for transformative action by all of us is NOW – no one can remain a bystander,” stated Gitanjali Singh, country representative of UN Women Bangladesh, in her opening remarks.

She emphasized on the cost-efficiency of prevention programming based on global data. The “What Works to Prevent VAW/G” program, supported by UK Aid in 12 countries in Africa and Asia, has provided evidence of reducing rates of violence against women and girls through prevention initiatives.

Melissa Alvarado, programme specialist, UN Women, Asia and the Pacific, said in her closing remarks, “This program has helped us to produce new knowledge and evidence, which would help combating VAW. We cannot leave the duty of achieving gender equality to future generations, it should be within us. We should act on it now.”

The event highlighted valuable insights and experiences gained throughout the duration of the CGBV project.

Grassroots participants shared their transformative journeys, underscoring the importance of understanding the root causes of gender-based violence for effective prevention.

The event was graced by Lilly Nicholls, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh; Md Muhibuzzaman, additional secretary of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, as the guest of honour; Gitanjali Singh, country representative of UN Women Bangladesh; Melissa Alvarado, programme specialist, UN Women ROAP; Barrister Sara Hossain, global experts, local implementers, and representatives from the grassroots level.

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