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Regional campaign to combat violence against women, girls launched in Amman

By JT - May 15,2019 - Last updated at May 15,2019

AMMAN — The EU-funded Regional Campaign on Zero Tolerance for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) was launched May 2-3, in Amman, as part of the Combating Violence against Women in the Southern Mediterranean Region Project.

The launching ceremony saw the participation of 140 official and non-governmental representatives from 14 countries in the European-Mediterranean region, including political parties and civil society organisations.

Participants agreed that in order to eliminate this violence, all discriminatory laws and legislation that withhold women’s rights and bring about violence against women should be annulled.

Layla Naffa, a member of the Arab Women Organisation in Jordan, co-presented the objectives of the campaign during the opening session, according to a statement that was sent to The Jordan Times.

Lilian Halls-French, co-president of the EuroMed Feminist Initiative, also addressed the attendees via the opening panel.

Naffa explained that the campaign strives to capture shared regional challenges such as legal discrimination against women, gender stereotypes, social tolerance, impunity for perpetrators and victim blaming.

All while addressing priorities specific to the different national contexts, she added.

Halls-French reiterated that this campaign was built on the achievements of several years of common investment in and advocacy of women’s rights regionally.

MP Wafa Bani Mustafa, chair of the Coalition of Women MPs from Arab Countries to Combat Violence Against Women, stressed that “violence against women is no longer tolerable”.

She insisted that the parliaments must work so that “policymakers can be aware that combating violence against women is like other priorities on the state’s policy agenda”.

Minister of Social Development Basma Ishaqat expressed her appreciation for choosing Jordan to host this important event.

She reiterated the ministry’s commitment to combating violence against women and girls in partnership with the civil society.

“The Ministry of Social Development will continue to cooperate with the women’s rights organisations in providing services and strengthening protection mechanisms on national and regional levels.”

Minister of Women’s Affairs in Palestine Amal Hamad delivered her opening address via video as she was obstructed from attending the conference in Jordan by Israeli authorities.

“What has happened to me is clear evidence of the kind of violence to which the Palestinian woman and people are subjected,” she said.

The minister stressed the commitment of Palestine to the international instruments of women’s rights; notably the ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women without any reservations.

On the institutional panel on governmental commitment, Senator Haifa Najjar underlined that “reforming the education system is of paramount importance in addressing gender stereotyped roles, deconstructing discrimination and combating violence against women and girls”.

Maya Khoury, the representative of the Office of the Minister of State for Economic Empowerment of Women and Youth in Lebanon, elaborated on the work of the newly established National Gender Observatory hosted by the ministry and on its role of combating violence against women and girls.

Tunisia’s director of the violence against women police unit, Najet Jaouadi, shed light on the unit’s work and achievements, the statement said, as well as head of the Palestinian Ministry of Social Development’s Gender Unit Saeeda Atrash.

Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Deputy Secretary General of Social and Civil Affairs Division Laurence Pais also addressed the conference.

She elaborated on the UfM’s plan to follow up on the implementation of the ministerial declaration of 2017.

All guest speakers highlighted the urgency of adopting and implementing VAWG policies and laws.

Challenges in regards to combating violence against women and girls include but are not limited to, the persistent impunity of perpetrators, social tolerance, victim blaming and weak protection mechanisms for the victims, the statement said.

In four parallel sessions, panellists discussed priorities, urgent actions and policies in the areas of data collection, education, argumentation for the annulment or amendment of discriminatory laws as well as raising awareness and communication strategies to tackle discriminatory legislation, social tolerance for VAWG and victim blaming.

In her closing remarks, Boriana Jonsson, executive director of EFI underlined the principles of the campaign, emphasising the vital role of the Civil Society Regional Observatory established in Amman since January 1.

The campaign’s progress will be monitored and measured every year, she said.

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