ESCWA held an expert group meeting on 30-31 May at the UN-House, Beirut, to discuss and assess the key findings of the study "Policies to Empower Women in the Arab Region: Combating Violence against Women and Girls". ESCWA and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN WOMEN) had prepared a study with support from the Norwegian Embassy in Lebanon.
The study aims to contribute to the evidence base for continued work on gender based violence by examining the specific scope of certain types and areas of violence within the domestic sphere, as well as the legal system that responds to these categories of violence.
Director of ESCWA Centre for Women Samira Atallah, pointed out in her opening statement to the agreed conclusions of the fifty-seventh session of the Commission on the Status of Women, stating that the responsibility of eliminating violence against women and girls does not lie solely with the State, though it is the primary party responsible for protecting all individuals within its boundaries, but it is the duty of every member of the society, every institution, be it governmental, or non-governmental".
Speaking of the study, Atallah said it "focuses on domestic violence against women and girls, to shed light on this phenomenon that is still considered a private affair in our Arab region, and dealt with from the perspective of protecting the privacy of the home before protecting women and girls. The importance of putting together this study stemmed from this point, since as the administration of the ESCWA Centre for Women, and in close partnership and coordination with our colleagues at UN Women, we have found it was necessary to examine the roots of this issue in our region from all aspects: legislative, institutional, service and cultural, to determine the gaps that need to be remedied, and offer practical recommendations on strengthening the capacities of concerned stakeholders to treat and fight this phenomenon."
The United Nations system has been increasingly focusing its efforts on eliminating gender-based violence as an essential requirement to implement successful development policies and national legislations built on a coherent rights-based approach. Within this international framework, ESCWA works closely with its member countries to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment. The ESCWA Fifth Session of the Committee on Women, held in December 2011, resulted in drafting "The Beirut Declaration" with recommendations to fill the gaps through evidence-based research and through examination of existing legislations and services.