At a special event hosted by Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the General Assembly, on the sidelines of the 66th Commission on the Status of Women, leaders came together to call for concrete actions and responses to end violence against women in politics around the world.
In his opening statement, Mr. Shahid emphasized that “violence against women in politics creates additional, and at times deadly, obstacles to women’s active and meaningful participation in politics. We must do more to eliminate the pervasiveness of this violence.”
Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, identified violence against women in politics as an attempt to silence women as political actors and exclude them from political life.
Ms. Alsalem charged that violence against women in politics “threatens the very fundamentals of democracy and democratic life and threatens to offset the positive impact of measures adopted by states in different parts of the world to increase women’s representation, political parties, parliaments and governments. It also undermines women’s ability to participate fully in conflict resolution, peacebuilding processes, and nation building.”
UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous urged Member States to take concrete steps towards ensuring a safe environments for women to exercise their political rights.
“Only when women are safe from violence and accountability for crimes is ensured will we have fairer, more inclusive and responsive decision-making. Only then will we be able to make progress on Agenda 2030,” said Ms. Bahous.
During the event, statements by high-ranking officials of Member States drew attention to violence against women in politics and provided the space for Ministers and experts to identify existing structural and normative barriers, as well as new opportunities to eliminate violence against women in politics.
Many Member States addressed the unfair experiences between genders in politics, with women experiencing more hostility before and during their terms than men, which can silence or discourage women from participating in the political process. Raising awareness of the obstacles and barriers faced, societal commitment to transformation, and recruiting men’s support as allies in the fight against violence against women in politics are critical to reversing this.
Member States also expressed concern about the role of technology and emphasized the responsibility social media platforms have in combating hate speech against women in politics and the need to improve the mechanisms to help tackle cyber violence against women. Many praised the recently passed EU Digital Services Act that will criminalize cyber violence, including hate speech based on the grounds of sex or gender, as well as the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.
H.E. Helena Dalli, EU Commissioner for Equality, stated, “We can, and must, do better to ensure that women have an equal share, representation, and voice in politics and public debates and encourage more women to join the debate and build a world of equality”.