There were 130 engaged participants at the conference and among the featured speakers were young Yezidi women and male youths sharing their experiences. Additionally, Mr. Mohamed Qader Hawdiyani, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Dr. Nazar Ismat, Director of the Duhok Health Center, Mr. Abdurhaman Sidiq, Religious Scholar and, Dr. Khidr Domili, Academic and Civil Society Activist spoke on the first panel on the role of men and boys in ending violence against women and girls within their respective roles.
The young Yezidi women on the panel shared their survival of unimaginable human rights abuses at the hands of ISIL. Many Yezidi women were sold to sexual slavery, psychologically abused, and used as human shields at the hands of ISIL. One mentioned that she would rather die than to live through another day of life because this was no way to live. The Yezidi women who sat on the panel shared their stories as survivors and they reminded everyone that there are still many women and girls who are trapped in the hands of ISIL terrorists. When asked of their goals, the first survivor, Rodi, mentioned that she would like to become a doctor to heal others who have been through abuse and the other survivor, Hoveen, mentioned that she would like to become a lawyer to represent and fight for the rights of women. They shared their goals as not only survivors but empowered young women ready to forge ahead with the future. The young men on the panel also shared their active role in representing the rights of women.
One male mentioned that his peers asked him why he is standing for women’s rights against tradition. His response to his peers is “My mother, sister, and aunts should have the same rights that I do as a male because we are equal”. He mentioned that he strives to continue to advocate for women’s rights as a young male.
The ongoing conflict in Iraq has resulted in increased extreme violence against women and girls. Most recently, as a result of the Mosul operations, women and girls are being used as sexual slaves, human shields, suicide bombers, forced into early child marriages, and there has been increased intimate partner violence within homes. While much of the interventions have focused on helping survivors, there is a growing global awareness that men, in partnership with women have a significant role in ending violence against women. Men have a strong role in the battle to end violence against women through changing their own behavior and attitudes, preventing violence from other men, partnering with other men to provide solutions, and serving as advocates against violence.
“Violence against women and girls is a grave violation of human rights with a high cost to society. Violence not only has negative consequences for those who suffer it, but also their families, the community and society at large. Men have strong partnership roles towards ending violence against women and we in this room can all serve as ambassadors in sharing the heroic stories of the survivors as they forge ahead towards empowered futures” said, Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women, Deputy Country Representative, OIC.
Recognizing the important role that men and boys have in ending violence against women and girls and as part of 16 Days of Activism, UN Women in partnership with Women’s Empowerment Organization has led this conference to highlight the important and significant role of men and boys in ending violence against women. Diverse participants included scholars, academics, CSO activists, government line ministries, parliament members, youth, IDPs, and some members of the United Nations Gender Task Force.
|Conference participants engage in dialogue on the role of men and boys in ending violence against women and girls. The orange balloons symbolizes a peaceful future without violence against women and girls. Photo Credit: UNAMI|
“There are emerging problems such as children born out of rape, kidnapped women. There are over 60000 women who are married illegally. There are many girls who are forced to marriage in a brutal way. Women in our societies are exposed to various kinds of violence. We need the support of men in our society to advocate for women’s rights” said, Ms. Suzan Aref, Executive Director, Women’s Empowerment Organization.
“Ending violence against women and girls will contribute to political, social and economic development of communities because violence has negative effects on family” said Minister Mohammed Qader Hawdiyani, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. He further states, “The new generation has to learn principles of equality and parents too need to learn to avoid domestic violence and its negative consequences. Furthermore, we have to study VAW in law and whether these laws prevent VAW.”
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.