International Women’s Day 2015 Let’s Save Our Women and Girls
Baghdad/Erbil, 8 March 2015 – The United Nations is calling for accelerated efforts to address the needs of close to 1.3 million displaced women across conflict-affected Iraq.
Since the beginning of the violence in January 2014, an estimated 1.26 million Iraqi women have been displaced and are now living in harsh conditions. Women and girls account for 51 per cent in the recent waves of displacements where almost 2.5 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes to escape violence, human rights abuses and death threats.
“Responding to the specific needs of women’s groups in such an environment is a priority for the humanitarian community,” Lise Grande, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG) and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in marking International Women’s Day (IWD). “We must do more.”
Although all of Iraqi society is affected by the ongoing conflict, women and girls remain particularly vulnerable to abuses and are often the first targets of attacks, including gross human rights violations. Reports of abductions, killings, trafficking, forced marriage and sexual violence are alarming.
Decades of conflict have produced dramatic changes to Iraq’s family structure, with approximately 1.6 million widows and even more female-headed households. Recent fighting has created thousands more.
On 5 March, the United Nations in Iraq launched the campaign “Let’s Save Our Women and Girls” in an effort to bring to the world’s attention the suffering and abuses faced by Iraqi displaced women, particularly abducted women and girls, as well as survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
On 5th March at the Women’s Day event jointly organized by the Iraqi State Ministry for Women Affairs and the United Nations Gender Task Force, Iraq’s Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi also launched the HeForShe campaign calling for men to join the movement and support promotion of women’s rights. HeForShe is a solidarity movement that calls upon men and boys to stand up against the persisting inequalities faced by women and girls globally (join at www.HeForShe.org).
“We believe that the ‘HeForShe’ campaign has tremendous potential to be a catalytic force in mobilizing the global men against one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations”. “The world will never be a free place until all forms of violence against women and children are eradicated”. Dr Sadiq Syed, Country Representative, UN Women emphasised.
“Women can play a strong role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding; giving them the support and opportunity to undertake this role is key for the country. Effective humanitarian response depends on the participation and inclusion of women as decision makers,” Grande also said.
Key priorities in addressing the needs of displaced women include humanitarian aid, support for livelihoods, SGBV risk mitigation and accessible SGBV services to SGBV survivors including capacity building for staff working with displaced population, including police and security officers
UN Iraq is joining its voice to those of the State Ministry for Women Affairs and the Kurdistan High Council of Women’s Affairs in combatting violence against women among Iraqi displaced population and Syrian refugees and calling for action to end the suffering of the survivors.
The Save Our Women and Girls Campaign aims at bringing to world’s attention the plight of displaced women in Iraq - including abducted women and survivors of gender-based crimes - in an attempt to end the gruesome human rights abuses they suffer.
This year’s IWD also marks the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The Beijing Declaration was signed 20 years ago by 189 governments. This historical landmark sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights.
For more information, please contact:
In Erbil, David Swanson (OCHA) on mobile +964-750-377-0849
In Baghdad, Eliana Nabba (UNAMI) on mobile +964-790-193-1281