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UK and UN Women celebrate International Women’s Day by joining together to address conflict-related sexual violence
The UK Government and UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific will launch a publication on ‘addressing the needs of conflict-related sexual violence victim-survivors and their children’.
The project aims to better understand the needs of conflict-related sexual violence survivors and their children in Asia-Pacific, and to document recommendations for strengthening national approaches that respond to survivors, including National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security.
In January 2017, a regional Expert Group Meeting was convened in Bangkok, Thailand to reflect on the needs of survivors in Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Sri Lanka and Myanmar and to identify priorities for action, including ensuring that survivors have access to health and psychosocial support, economic opportunities, and safety and security measures.
This was followed by a national Expert Group Meeting held in Kathmandu, Nepal in February 2017 that considered the specific needs of survivors within the local context. With the collaboration of the Government of Nepal, conflict-affected women voiced their needs to receive support and services including access to justice, and to live free from stigma and discrimination. Suman Prasad Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction said, “The Government of Nepal is committed to ensuring that the voices of victims inform the development process of the Second Phase of the National Action Plan on UNSCRs 1325 and 1820 from the start, and involve diverse groups among victims including learning more about the needs and situation of children born out of sexual violence during the conflict and post-conflict.”
British Embassy Kathmandu’s Deputy Head of Mission, Katherine Smitton, highlighted that as a focus country of the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative, the work of the UK in Nepal has included providing training to survivors and human rights defenders on how to document and investigate incidents of sexual violence in conflict. However, she stressed that “more needs to be done to achieve the strategic outcomes required to meet the needs of the survivors affected by conflict”.
UN Women Country Representative, Wenny Kusuma, emphasized that “addressing the practical needs of survivors should not be secondary to seeking accountability for crimes of sexual violence – both can be pursued at the same time”.
The discussions from both Expert Group Meetings will be reflected in the final publication to be launched in April 2017. The publication will feature a research paper, policy analysis, and case studies from Nepal and Sri Lanka, for the use of policymakers and advocates to better respond to the needs of survivors and their children.
In July 2016, UN Women and the Government of Japan hosted an Asia-Pacific Regional Symposium on the National Action Plans (NAPs) on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Bangkok with over 80 participants from 17 countries to examine the successes and challenges of NAPs-WPS in Asia-Pacific to date. Following the successful symposium, the UK funded this follow up project as part of the wider UK-Japan cooperation on gender in security and conflict.