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Tale ved den 35. samling i FNs menneskerettighedsråd

Ministeren for ligestilling og nordisk samarbejdes tale ved den årlige heldagsdebat om kvinders rettigheder ved den 35. samling i FNs menneskerettighedsråd den 13. juni 2017

35th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women

Panel I: Accelerating efforts to eliminate violence against women: engaging men and boys in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls

Statement by Key Note Speaker HE Ms Karen Ellemann, Minister for Equal Opportunities & Nordic Cooperation, Denmark

 ~Check against Delivery~

Thank you Mr President,

Thank you very much for inviting me to speak about how we best engage men and boys in the prevention of violence against girls and women.

Preventing, addressing and responding to human rights violations are core obligations of States. Violence against women and girls – whether being physical or psychological – is a violation of their human rights. Their human right to live a life free from violence and coercion.

Such violence is pervasive and harmful in all its forms. While being a human rights violation in itself, it moreover prevents women and girls all over the world – in every region, in every country - from exercising the full enjoyment of all human rights.

How do we then prevent violence against women and girls? While a simple question, we do not have simple answers. We do know, however, that we cannot eliminate such violence if we exclude half the world’s population from the struggle.

It goes without saying, that engaging men and boys in part means sensitizing them to realize the consequences of violence – whether it is their own actions or the actions of others. But it also means, that the stereotypes, the negative patriarchal and masculinity notions and the harmful social norms - the roots of these actions – will not perish if women and girls are not joined by men and boys: the other half of this world’s population. We need men and boys to join us in the struggle, to join our marches, to join our efforts to protect human rights.

Violence against women continues to be a problem also in Denmark. Despite numerous action plans and comprehensive efforts within health care, social services and the justice sector, we have not yet eliminated violence against women and girls.

However, there is a decline in the number of victims.

I am certain that this is because awareness in Denmark has increased. Attitudes towards violence have changed. The taboo is slowly being broken.

Denmark is among the countries in the EU where people are most likely to talk to someone about it, if they know someone who have been victim of domestic violence. And this includes men and boys.

But what exactly has prompted this development?

Well, in Denmark, we have initiated a range of activities in order to promote respect between girls and boys, women and men, and to create partnerships, alliances and cooperation between actors in the field;

  • We know that violent relationships are often carried from childhood into adult life – and this is a vicious cycle we need to break. To do so, we fund information events at schools about domestic and dating violence.
  • Furthermore, we organize annual school competitions on countering dating violence in order to promote discussions in schools about gender roles, violence and respect between girls and boys.
  • This year we will launch a nationwide campaign to raise awareness on the causes and consequences of intimate partner violence. The campaign has a comprehensive focus and thus does not only focus on victims and survivors, but also on perpetrators and the wider population as a whole.
  • We have established a treatment center for perpetrators and their families in order to break the cycle of violence through counselling.

These initiatives all share the cross-cutting focus on addressing the social norms and stereotypes related to gender and gender roles. This conversation is intrinsically linked to the discussion about rights, in particular women and girls’ awareness of their rights.

Men and boys play an important role in this process of challenging gender stereotypes. Because when men and boys take a larger part in parenting and housekeeping, women are able to participate at the labour market.

The sharing of domestic chores also show that men can be caring fathers and role models. We do promote this in Denmark by working with companies and organizations in persuading fathers to take share of the parental leave.

We need men and boys to be role models in combatting all forms of violence against women and girls. We need to tap into the under-utilized partnership between all these fathers, sons, brothers and husbands in the struggle to combat violence against women and girls.

To address these stereotypes and harmful social norms, each and every one of us needs to dig deep to address the inherent biases, which have been carried over from generation to generation. Each and every one of us has an individual responsibility. In closing, I therefore challenge all of you to look back and think about a gender biased action you have encountered recently. More importantly: did you act?

Thank you.