Vienna, 25 November 2006 - "Violence against women exists in all cultures and social strata, including Austria. We must not allow this issue to become the pawn in a staged conflict between North and South and between the poor and the rich. Zero tolerance for violence against women applies everywhere. We are all called upon to combat this violence in all its forms and will all resoluteness," emphasised Federal Minister Ursula Plassnik on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
A comprehensive UN study on violence against women which also contained important recommendations for the UN Member States was presented to the UN General Assembly at the beginning of October. "This study will help to place the international debate on a well-founded objective basis and support female human rights defenders in their work. Violence against women prevents them from exercising their fundamental human rights and basic freedoms. That is why Austria supported and co-financed this UN study," stated Plassnik.
The Foreign Minister recalled the worldwide campaign for the protection of female human rights defenders which had been initiated by Austria's EU Presidency, and welcomed the continuation of this initiative by Finland. "It is precisely women, who are actively committed to fighting for more justice and human rights who are often in danger of becoming victims of repression or violence. They need our support and our special protection. In fact, increased international attention already gives them more security. I shall therefore emphatically continue to support all activities to this end, such as the network conference scheduled to take place in Jakarta at the end of this month," said Plassnik.
Another priority area is women, peace, security and thus the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325. "In armed conflicts women are often the first to suffer. But they are also the first to build bridges beyond conflicts and ethnic boundaries, as it was the case in the Caucasus. These initiatives have to be recognised and supported. Women must therefore have a place at the negotiating table. And they also have to be represented more strongly in international peace operations, including in leading positions. I persistently support these concerns within the framework of the EU, the OSCE and the UN," emphasised Plassnik.
Women's concerns are also of special importance within the framework of Austrian Development Cooperation. In the autumn ADC launched a large-scale programme against the trade in women and girls in South-Eastern Europe which also included the funding of shelters for battered women in Serbia and Kosovo. In Africa, priorities are similar. In Ethiopia, for instance, ongoing projects are designed to combat female genital mutilation, while in Uganda projects focus on women and child soldiers traumatised by war.
Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3262, 4549, 4550
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213