UNICEF, UNFPA and Medica Zenica mark International Women’s Day with the launch of a new project to address violence
SARAJEVO, 7 March 2007 - The establishment of an enhanced gender-based violence and child abuse referral mechanism in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) is the expected result of the new joint project in which UNFPA and UNICEF BIH are joining efforts with the NGO, Medica Zenica. Starting with research and an assessment of the existing referral system, the project will contribute to the development of a comprehensive mechanism for identifying, recording, reporting, treating and referring victims of violence. In 2008, this model will be piloted and evaluated in selected municipalities.
UNICEF and Medica have been collaborating in combating violence since 2001. The Medica’s shelter for victims of domestic violence and a consultant were supported from 2004 to 2006 with funds from the Government of Norway. Over a five-year period, UNICEF has supported the training of 750 professionals from the social work, police, health, judiciary, media and NGO sectors in 63 municipalities. Last year, UNICEF supported the BIH Government in preparing a national report on violence as its contribution to the UN Global Study on Violence Against Children.
In its report, The State of the World’s Children 2007, UNICEF highlighted the discrimination and disempowerment that women and girls face throughout their lives, outlined what must be done to empower them, and called for investment in women’s rights in order to produce a ‘double dividend’—advancing the rights of both women and children.
UNICEF’s report shows that, even if children are not direct victims of family violence, witnessing the violence can have severe implications on children’s development, health, their ability to learn or even their willingness to attend school. Boys coming from violent families are twice as likely to be violent men compared to their peers from non-violent families. Girls whose mothers experienced violence are more likely to accept violence from their spouses when they grow up.
UNFPA has been collaborating with a number of women’s NGOs in advancing the rights of women to a life free of violence. UNFPA efforts have been directed toward the elimination of all forms of violence against women, especially sexual gender-based violence, and fulfilling the reproductive health rights of women.
UNFPA and Medica represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Brussels International Symposium on Sexual Gender Based Violence in Conflict and Beyond in 2006, where they committed to future cooperation and the improvement of the position of women in the country, in order to achieve the Brussels Call for Zero Tolerance to Violence.
This project will give us a great opportunity to, jointly with UNICEF, support Medica in implementing what we promised to do in the context of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the BiH Gender Action Plan”, states Ms. Zeljka Mudrovcic, Assistant UNFPA Representative.
“The recent media reports and public debate on family violence in BIH are a positive step towards breaking the silence around this sensitive issue,” said UNICEF Representative in BIH, Ms. June Kunugi. “It is vital that this momentum be supported by concrete action and a comprehensive and well-coordinated system ensuring that children and women who are at-risk or victims of violence have access to the services, care, and support that they need and have a right to. We are very pleased to be entering this new partnership with UNFPA and Medica Zenica to support this.”
For additional information:
Nela Kacmarcik, Phone: +387 33 723 300, Mob: +387 61 192 084