"Violence against women and girls comes in many forms. None of them are acceptable. Any form of violence against women and girls is not only an abuse of human rights – it also robs women and girls of opportunities. By empowering women, we empower societies," said the German Development Minister Dr Gerd Müller at an event held in Berlin, Germany, on the 23rd November. The conference on "Successfully preventing Violence Against Women and Girls: Prevention in the International Context" took place at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)”.
The Minister used the conference to unveil a new five-point plan outlining how Germany aims to prevent violence against women and provide them with greater protection through its development co-operation policy.
1. Germany leaves no victim behind
In the wake of conflicts and when fleeing, women and girls are particularly exposed to sexual violence. This is why the Federal Government is complementing all programmes addressing the protection of refugees with a gender-specific protection component. Furthermore, places are to be financed providing support for victims of violence with trauma counselling as well as medical, legal and psychosocial services.
In Northern Iraq, for example, the Federal Government is financing trauma-sensitive counselling for around 17,000 women, and in co-operation with the Jiyan Foundation, it has established an in-patient unit for survivors of sexual violence suffering from extreme forms of trauma.
A further example that the BMZ refers to is Liberia, where women and girls who have become victims in 70 villages are offered medical support and legal counselling.
2. Bringing perpetrators to account
The Federal Government supports the documentation and appraisal of crimes against humanity as well as legal support for the victims by strengthening rule-of-law institutions both at local level and internationally (e.g. International Criminal Court).
The BMZ refers to the appraisal of war crimes in Cambodia as an example. Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence are offered instruction on legal issues as well as psychosocial counselling. Provided with such support, they also appear in court as joint plaintiffs.
3. Equal opportunities and equal rights
Right from the start, young women need to have equal access to education, training and employment, the BMZ stresses in its statement. For example, in order to ensure that girls can regularly attend school, the Federal Government is financing safe and hygienic sanitation for girls going to school in Kenya, thus enabling in permanent access to primary and secondary schools for 25,000 schools in 29 newly erected schools.
The “eSkills4Girls” initiative, which supports digital education for girls and women in 17 African countries and was launched in the context of Germany’s G20 Presidency, is a further example.
4. Preventing violence in time
Together with civil society, German development co-operation is tackling female genital mutilation in schools and communities in several countries. Campaigns for equal rights and equal opportunities are run in the schools, questioning traditional role models is promoted, and ways to peacefully resolve conflicts are demonstrated.
In Niger, the Federal Government is boosting the capacities of selected political actors in the context of human trafficking, flight and migration. This is intended as a contribution to the development of a migration policy that also strengthens the rights of survivors of human trafficking and gives special consideration to the needs of women and girls.
5. Acting nationally and internationally – with a local impact
One important goal that the BMZ stresses is strengthening institutional structures in the partner countries to ensure that international, regional and national agreements on the protection of women and girls can be implemented and enforced. The situation of women and girls is a topic in all government negotiations.
For this purpose, the Federal Government is putting the second national action plan into practice for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security (2017 to 2020) in order to e.g. strengthen the political participation and influence of women in high-level peace and transitional processes in the Middle East in collaboration with the UN.
The co-financing of the new EU/UN gender initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls with around 100 million euros is a further German measure. The aim of the EU initiative, which has a total volume of 500 million euros, is to put an end to sexual and gender-based violence as well as to harmful practices such as genital mutilation and child marriage.