This was what Ingvild Næss Stub, State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, had to say when addressing the high-level conference on the elimination of gender-based violence taking place in the Czech capital Prague 27-28 May. Reiterating the importance attached by Norway to this issue, she continued:
“We see violence against women as both a cause and consequence of economic and social disparities. It is persistent and it is destructive. It ruins lives and breaks up families. It leaves devastating scars and it comes with a massive social and economic cost.”
The conference is funded by Norway Grants and is organised by the Open Society Fund Prague (OSF) in co-operation with the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and the Council of Europe. It offers a platform for the exchange of knowledge and best practice in preventing and combating gender-based violence.
The event follows on from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights survey on violence against women as well as the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention in August 2014. A large number of policy-makers, government representatives, practitioners, service providers and researchers are taking part.
During the opening session yesterday, Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality highlighted the need for all countries to ratify the Convention as soon as possible:
“I have zero tolerance for violence against women and girls. But it takes more than laws on paper from stopping gender-based violence from happening. I see a strong connection between promoting gender equality and combating GBV. I believe the Istanbul Convention is a very powerful tool in our common fight against GBV and I congratulate those member states who have signed and ratified and I encourage all who have not to do so promptly, including the Czech Republic.”
Prevention and intervention are the primary topics under discussion at the event, which has a regional outlook with a focus on Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia - all countries which implement programmes supported by Norway Grants in the fields of domestic and gender-based violence.
The conference also intends to inspire more research and systematic data collection as an important tool in the process of developing effective policies and measures to tackle gender-based violence.