A Joint Statement Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence Against Women and Girls issued by UN Agencies and Partners in Ethiopia “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence against Women & Girls!”
We, the representatives of Austria, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the ILO, OHCHR, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women join to mark the launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence Against Women and Girls and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We recall that at least one in three women throughout Ethiopia faces physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetimes after age 15. This needs to stop!
Violence against women and girls persists because gender inequalities persist. We should all work towards ending these inequalities. This includes men and boys. Crisis, including conflicts, droughts, inflation, and pandemics exacerbate these inequalities and drastically intensify all forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), child and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and adolescent pregnancy. These crises also disrupt the essential services that women and girls need to recover from SGBV. Response, recovery, and resilience in the face of current crises requires respect for human rights, unimpeded access to sexual reproductive health and rights and provision of services, including mental health and psychosocial services, justice, and the equal participation of women at all levels of peace and security dialogue and processes.
Women and girls have been especially affected by different conflicts in Ethiopia. We call on all parties to conflicts in Ethiopia to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. Civilians must be protected from conflict related sexual violence, with special attention to protecting women and girls.
In the context of peace processes, such as the one being implemented for the northern conflict, it is essential that women be engaged with full, equal, and meaningful participation, and justice and accountability must be front and centre. We believe addressing women's economic, social, and political empowerment as part of conflict prevention and peacebuilding processes is a prerequisite to achieving, maintaining, and promoting sustainable peace. We call on all actors to explicitly condemn SGBV to bring all perpetrators to justice and ensure a survivor-centered and trauma-sensitive approach that makes the needs of and redress for survivors a priority.
We welcome the historic agreement reached in Pretoria and the Nairobi Declaration, in particular the references made to the specific needs of women and the need to ensure their safety and security. In this context, we hope that women will be involved in the peace process in accordance with UN Resolution 1325 on Women Peace and Security.
The participation and leadership of women and girls, in all their diversity, is needed in decision making from local to global levels. This includes the most marginalized: persons with disabilities or chronic illness; refugees; internally displaced people; host communities; or others facing greater risks of violence and stigma and extra barriers to accessing services and justice. Everyone’s contributions are needed to enable peace processes, adapt to climate change, ensure food security, and to advance human rights and economic development.
Women peacebuilders, Ethiopian government bodies at all levels, local Ethiopian and international civil society organizations protect, serve, advance and defend the well-being and rights of Ethiopian women and girls throughout the country. They, and the Ethiopian women and girls they work with, have our unified and steadfast support. Development partners in Ethiopia contribute expertise, technical support, and financial resources to the development and effective implementation of Ethiopian judicial and policy frameworks meant to protect women and girls, counter impunity, and ensure accountability. Now is the time to UNiTE and act for a society free of violence against women and girls.