UN Under-Secretary General and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet visited Mali last week to underscore the need to protect women and girls from gender-based violence in the midst of the fighting in Mali between rebels who have taken over the north and the Malian government and its allies.
During war women are typically the perpetual victims of sexual crimes and other forms of gender violence. In remarks during Bachelet’s visit with internally displaced women at the Women’s House. Bamako, Mali. 9 January 2013 she said, “International law categorically prohibits rape and other forms of sexual violence in conflict. There cannot be amnesty for these crimes. And there must be justice for anyone who has been a victim of these crimes: Commanders are responsible for stopping it, and if they do not, they are criminally liable.”
During Bachelet’s visit to Mali some women came forward to tell their stories including a woman who recounted the assault she suffered in occupied Mali. Due to the increased incidence of gender violence UN Women have set out to:
- support the deployment of units to treat gender-based violence and the establishment of a national pool of psychologists to support women in both occupied and non-occupied areas.
- support a broad-based and inclusive political dialogue and advocate for women’s participation to be an integral part of the transition.
- launch a training program for women on mediation and conflict management, attended by parliamentarians and women leaders. UN Women is committed to making sure that the voices of women in Mali are heard and acted upon.
After Bachelet’s visit to Mali, she traveled to Nigeria to deliver remarks and recommendations to ECOWAS (Economic Security of West African States). There Bachelet commended ECOWAS for being a “a driving force for gender
equality and women’s empowerment in West Africa.” Bachelet also urged ECOWAS to use its recognition in the region and programs to advance women in greater equality roles.
Read more at http://www.unwomen.org
Photo Credits: UN Women/DFA