New York — UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura spoke at a CSW58 UN side event about how the UNFPA works in countries across the world that either are in conflict or post conflict situations to help prevent sexual violence and the use of women's bodies as weapons of war. They have been working with health providers, the law enforcement and the military to educate personnel about sexual violence and to ensure high ranking officers are instrumental in stopping sexual violence perpetrated by and within their ranks. However, referring to case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Hawa Bangura noted that one of the greatest hurdles is reaching and educating non-state actors and militia groups. She also emphasised the need to work with men, who are the primary decision makers as well as increasing the number of women in the defence and peacekeeping.
According to the 2013 SADC Gender Barometer, the DRC has some of the lowest percentages of women in defence and peacekeeping. However Southern Africa is making progress with women constituting 27% of the defence forces in South Africa; 38% of the police in Seychelles and 52% of correctional services staff in Seychelles. Eight countries now contribute women to UN peace keeping forces, with Namibia (46% women) contributing the highest proportion of women.
The CSW58 UN side event was also used to launch the UNFPA's book Sound of Silence, which is a collection of testimonies from survivors of wartime sexual violence. Since 2004, Gender Links has been compiling similar books called I Stories series under the slogan "Speaking out can set you free." I stories is a collection of the voices and stories of survivors of all forms of gender based violence.
These podcast is part of the GL News Service special coverage of CSW58, offering fresh views on everyday news.