Two-thirds of countries globally now have laws against domestic violence with several significant transformations in legal frameworks in Asia and the Pacific. This significant shift over the last decade has not only led 15 countries in East Asia and the Pacific to enact domestic-violence laws but six Asian countries have taken the important step of outlawing rape within marriage.
"Violence against women can be stopped by rethinking the concept of masculinity. Globally, one in three women will experience violence in their lifetime, most often at the hands of an intimate partner. Gender equality and women's empowerment are simply not possible if we don't end violence," said John Hendra, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women.
In an interview with Citizen News Service (CNS), Hendra pointed out that several critical gender-equality issues were not mentioned by the millennium development goals (MDGs), such as violence against women and girls. "Gender equality must be comprehensively and robustly addressed in the new post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This U.N.'s post-2015 development agenda can address inequality through a standalone goal on gender equality." He said that this will help to strengthen the evidence base and underlying causes that propel women back. Violence against women (VAW) should not be go unpunished. "UN Women believes that 2015 post agenda has to include VAW in the framework."
But in India, where sex-selective abortions have led to millions of missing girls, will political reservations make a difference? "Quotas are needed for women to drive the transformative process to end violence against women. But to end prejudices, there is a need to values girls. Ending sex selection will take time to but increasing women in parliament will drive the debate for change."
Just how important equal representation for women in leadership positions in peacemaking, in communities, in politics, in business, and in religious institutions is for a more just, peaceful, and secure world was underlined by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka United Nations Under Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Women.
While direct policy interventions are needed to correct gender inequality, temporary measures could also bring about an enabling environment in countries like India. According to Hendra, quotas would enhance diversity in policy making. "Of course we know that social change is complicated and laws do not lead automatically to change. But, there are measures that governments can take to make implementation more likely," he concluded. (CNS)
Swapna Majumdar, Citizen News Service -- CNS