Monday, 4 March, 2013, 3:00 - 4:15 PM
UN North Lawn Building, Conference Room B
Minister Paavo Arhinmäki
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Violence against women affects the entire society. It can touch upon anyone, regardless of age, social or economical status, formal education level or ethnic background. All societies have stereotypical social norms and gender stereotypes which influence how men and women are viewed.
Civil society has a crucial role in advancing the agenda and creating a positive mindset among all members of the society. Strengthening a positive mindset is important, and can be done through education, awareness-raising and advertising. Attention should be paid to the ways the media displays and potentially makes these harmful stereotypes stronger. The power of social media is often underestimated. It should be used for the good, mobilizing positive initiatives to promote the human rights of women and girls.
International and national experience proves that combating violence against women successfully calls for a comprehensive approach. Only by improving the co-operation among the authorities, service providers, professionals and NGOs we will be able to reach results, that is, effective protection, support and empowerment for the victims of violence. Therefore, the Finnish Government has a multi-sectoral National Action Plan to reduce violence against women.
The five-year Action Plan aims at implementing concrete measures and spreading good practices among the professionals and authorities, who face the victims of violence in their daily work. The Action Plan is implemented in cooperation between the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The Action Plan aims at tackling violence proactively and holistically by seeking to influence attitudes and behavior. It lists the goals and concrete actions to reduce violence against women, among which preventive actions such as education and awareness-raising play a key role.
In Finland, we have developed learning materials to support safety education for young people about sexual rights and safety skills. Contents for this safety education is designed to cover the following areas: gender equality, bodily integrity, respect for sexual self-determination, sexual and gender diversity, media criticism, the identification of sexual violence and harassment and intimate partner violence, seeking help in situations of violence and the obligation of fellow humans to stop the violence and to help the victim. It is important to underscore the importance of helping children and young people to recognize their own feelings and to learn how to deal with them. In April, we are going to launch a media campaign against sexual violence called “MY BODY – I DECIDE” , which is targeted at young people and making use of social media.
Without significant changes in cultural, social and moral attitudes in society, women and girls will continue to be subjected to violence. Transforming social norms to prevent violence women and girls is an ongoing process, and much remains to be done. I hope that the 57th session of the CSW will give us new tools and inspiration to continue this extremely important work.