Ending Violence against Women


In 2021, continued recourse to military rather than diplomatic and political means led to displacement on a significant scale, exposing civilians to heightened levels of sexual violence. Rising inequality, increased militarization, reduced civic space and the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons also contributed, among other factors, to fuelling widespread and systematic conflict-related sexual violence, even in the midst of a global pandemic. Women peace builders and human rights defenders were often specifically targeted, including through sexual violence and harassment as a form of reprisal, in order to exclude them from public life. Activists and advocates working to highlight the plight and defend the rights of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, and to support their access to justice and services, were also subjected to reprisals and intimidation. Sexual violence further impeded women’s livelihood activities, against the backdrop of economic shocks and poverty driven by protracted conflict and pandemic-related restrictions. These trends emerged at a time when the global public health crisis as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had already diminished humanitarian access and diverted resources away from life-saving services to address gender-based violence and deeply affecting survivors, in particular displaced women and girls. Military spending outpaced investment in pandemic-related health care in fragile and conflict-affected countries. The deployment of women’s protection advisers, who are responsible for convening the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on conflict-related sexual violence in the field, has ensured more timely, accurate and reliable information and helped to overcome the dearth of data that is often used as a pretext for inaction. Deepening the evidence base requires sustained political resolve and resources. To date, the Security Council has called for the deployment of women’s protection advisers in the mandate authorizations and renewals of nine peace operations.

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