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05 August 2016

OSCE Conference: “Inspiring yet sobering”

Recently, Monika Hauser, the founder of medica mondiale, attended a conference organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, participating in a discussion on strategies for combating violence against women. The heart of Monika Hauser’s message can be summarised as: “Fine words are no longer sufficient: we need tangible political action in the struggle against every form of sexualised and gender-based violence.”

Eliminating sexualised wartime violence has increasingly been taken up as an issue by influential institutions in the international community. In October 2000, the United Nations Security Council first explicitly called for the protection of women and girls during armed conflict when it passed Resolution 1325 on “Women, Peace and Security”. And in the past five years in particular, the topic was repeatedly a focus of political discussion, including a declaration by the G8 Foreign Ministers. This year the German government is the Chair of the OSCE and has also put the issue onto the agenda. We welcome the fact that the rights of women and girls in armed conflicts are finally gaining more political attention; after all, this has been a demand voiced by women’s rights activists across the world for decades. However: What will come out of these declarations of political intention?

Practical support has only come from women’s rights organisations – Governments have to do more!

High-ranking representatives of national governments, OSCE missions and civil society attended the conference in Vienna and discussed the need for practical action to combat sexualised and gender-based violence. In her speech, Monika Hauser drew the audience’s attention to the devastating long-term consequences of wartime rape. Survivors need comprehensive stress- and trauma-sensitive support, which requires long-term funding. Up until now, it has mainly been women’s rights organisations which provide the expert assistance needed and campaign for the rights of those affected. “Many of our partners are put under political pressure and even threatened with violence because of the work they do,” reports Monika Hauser. “Diplomatic protection for women’s rights defenders therefore has to be at the top of the political agenda of international players.”

Demands: Diplomatic protection for women’s rights defenders

It only takes a quick glance in the direction of Syria or Ukraine to realise: Combating sexualised and gender-based violence in conflicts only rarely results in consequential political action. When it comes to the supposedly “major” political security issues, women’s rights play no noticeable role. “This is why there is a worldwide need for feminist foreign and peace policy if we are to achieve gender justice. And that is the only way to make progress,” declares the founder of medica mondiale.

Read the statement Monika Hauser brought forward at the OSCE Gender conference

Get more Information on approaches to providing support for survivors of sexualised violence