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Prime Minister helps launch campaign to combat violence against women

TUE, 27 NOV 2012 14:44 | KRG Cabinet

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq - (KRG.org) – KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani joined the High Committee of the Campaign Combatting Violence Against Women to open a conference on promoting women’s rights and combatting domestic violence in Erbil yesterday.

A large number of visitors from the diplomatic community attended yesterday’s conference, including the Ambassador of Sweden to Iraq, Mr Jörgen Lindström and the Deputy UN Special Representative of the Secretary General (DSRSG), Mr Gyorgy Busztin. The conference officially began a 16-day campaign throughout the Kurdistan Region aimed to reduce violence against women and improve women’s rights.

In his speech at the conference, Prime Minister Barzani emphasized the support of the KRG for women’s issues and outlined many related initiatives that are being implemented in the Region. “Today, with the launch of this national campaign for the elimination of violence against women, we combine our efforts with like-minded leaders and people throughout the world, who are addressing this serious issue,” he said.

Describing the government’s overall support, the secretary general of High Council of Women Affairs, Ms Pakhshan Zangana, said: “This year, the KRG’s five-year national strategy for combatting violence against women has been adopted by the Council of Ministers, and this is a great step towards a real partnership between the government and civil society organisations (CSOs) in the process of addressing this issue.”

Ms Zangana went on to give some details of the 16-day campaign, saying: “Awareness sessions will be held in the towns and villages of Kurdistan by the line ministries, CSOs and media agencies in partnership with UNFPA and UN Women,” adding that some of the CSOs of the disputed territories have joined in the campaign.

DSRSG Busztin, commended the progress the Region has made but outlined the long road that still lies ahead. “You have shown your commitment to ending violence against women, such violence is a threat to the very fabric of society…but ending violence is more than the work of 16 days, and the UN remains committed to helping the KRG in their fight.”

The conference today, entitled “From peace in the home to peace in the society”, is part of a five year plan by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to combat violence against women. The five-year anti-violence strategy was officially instituted by the KRG in September of this year.

A representative of the Women’s Rights Protection Committee of the Kurdistan Parliament also spoke at today’s conference, as did the Swedish Ambassador to Iraq and both the Consul Generals of the United States and the United Kingdom. The event was attended by a large number of KRG Ministers, Members of Parliament and local officials, as well as representatives of the local diplomatic and civil society communities.

The KRG and the Kurdistan Parliament have already undertaken a number of initiatives to protect women's rights and eliminate violence. After 2001, Prime Minister Barzani led the way to amend laws to provide more rights for women, to put obstacles in the way of polygamy and to define honour killings as premeditated crimes. The KRG has created a number of shelters for women under threat, and the Interior Ministry has special directorates in each governorate to deal with cases.

The previous KRG cabinet set up a High Council of Women’s Affairs which, with the help of UN agencies and international experts, has defined the new five-year national strategy. A Women’s Rights’ Monitoring Board at the Council of Ministers was also established, to assist the High Council to better coordinate and follow up. The monitoring board meets monthly and brings together all concerned ministries.

See also the full text of Prime Minister Barzani's speech at the conference.