Protecting and upholding the rights of women and promoting the fight against any form of discrimination and gender-based violence are Italy’s priorities in the action it carries out, also at the international level. On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Farnesina wishes to reaffirm its firm commitment to these issues.
Italy’s engagement rests on the belief that promoting the empowerment of women and girls and fighting against gender-based violence are deeply intertwined. By inhibiting the ability of women to enjoy their rights, gender-based violence represents a major hindrance on the road to their empowerment and fulfilment. Likewise, promoting the empowerment of women, based on the recognition of women as political, economic and social subjects, can help to counter violence against them.
Italy is actively engaged in this field, both at the diplomatic level and for development cooperation. We are on the forefront of international campaigns to eradicate female genital mutilation (FGM) and early and forced marriages. In particular, Italy has promoted and actively participated in talks on U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Human Rights Council resolutions. It has also financed development cooperation projects geared to put an end to these practices. Moreover, Italy supports international initiatives to prevent sexual violence in conflict and emergency situations, including the “Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies”. Italy has also long been committed to the promotion of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against sexual abuses and exploitation perpetrated by military and civilian personnel deployed in U.N. peace missions. Last September, it joined the “Circle of Leadership” that the U.N. Secretary General Guterees has launched to counter such phenomena and has also signed the Voluntary Compact, a political commitment to implement measures designed to prevent and fight violence and abuse. We have also joined a roster of countries contributing to the Trust Fund in Support of the Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by U.N. personnel.
Protecting women and girls in conflict situations and promoting the role of women in processes of mediation and prevention of conflicts are high among the priorities that Italy has set for itself during its mandate as a member of the U.N. Security Council in 2017. Specifically, we have introduced provisions into Council resolutions and documents, including mandates of peace-keeping missions, which can contribute to the advancement of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, protecting civilians in conflict situations and preventing and countering abuse and violence on women by U.N. military and civilian personnel. We also launched the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network, MWM, on 26 September. It is a concrete, long-term project designed to support women as ‘actors of peace’ in the Mediterranean region, whose pacification and stabilisation is of crucial importance for us all.
The empowerment of women has been a key-theme of the Italian G7 Presidency, which saw the adoption of a “Roadmap for a gender-responsive economic empowerment” at the Taormina Summit and the first G7 Ministerial Meeting on Equal Opportunities.
As regards development cooperation activities, the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment continues to be a priority that cuts across all cooperation projects, integrating the specific initiatives for women, girls and minors, and is in line with SDG 5 of the U.N. 2030 Agenda and with the priority that this sector has found again in a multilateral development debate. Italy has welcomed the launching of the initiative against any form of violence against women, promoted by the European Union in partnership with the United Nations (EU-UN Gender Initiative).