Women Human Rights Defenders: Italy calls for accountability to stem rising acts of violence

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Missione Italiana

NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 23 – The rise in episodes of violence against woman human rights defenders and women peacebuilders is worrisome and, in Italy’s view, has its root causes in the failure to recognize women as full actors and game changers, and the belief that they can be forced into silence through physical or psychological violence, or the fear of it.

“A paradigm shift is needed. Only by encouraging a cultural change that entails the full and meaningful participation of women and girls in the decision making processes, can this culture of violence be effectively fought”, an Italian diplomat said last week during an Arria formula meeting of the UN Security Council.

On the one hand, accountability at the level of the Security Council is needed. States should be encouraged to increase protection measures for women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders and accountability for their offenders, the lack of which is still “an open wound”, Italy said. On the other hand, it is fundamental to affirm a culture of full gender equality that entails full and effective participation of women and girls in all spheres.

Women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders are mostly vulnerable in conflict situations. In order to allow them to work in a safe environment, without fear of reprisals and intimidation, it is essential that the UN peacekeeping missions step up their protection, Italy said, welcoming the fact that several peacekeeping missions have strengthened their strategic engagement with women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders. Italy – said the Italian diplomat – is stepping up its efforts in order to increase the numbers of female peacekeepers: “Over the last few years, our Ministry of Defense has incorporated the gender perspective in its policies and training curricula, has appointed a Gender Advisor and has established a Joint Council on gender perspectives”. (@OnuItalia)