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Call for collaborative efforts to fight gender-based violence

United Nations agencies have convened over 100 government and civil society partners from 12 countries for a landmark three-day (June 28 to 30) meeting in Bangkok to respond to gender-based violence.

A press release issued by World Health Organisation South-East Asia Regional Office, the Bangkok meeting drew participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

The meeting was convened by the Asia-Pacific regional offices of the United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the WHO.

“A collaborative and coordinated response is needed in every country, which brings together several key sectors, including the police, the legal and justice system, social services and health,” said the release. To that end, a joint UN programme was established last year on Essential Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence, with the participation of UNFPA, UN Women, UNODC, and WHO.

The Essential Services Package for Women and Girls Subject to Violence sets out concrete guidance for services that should be available to every survivor, no matter where she lives or who she is.

The Essential Services Package facilitates the implementation of several commitments made by member states to address violence against women and girls, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the 2016 WHO global plan of action on health systems’ response to violence against women and girls, and the 2013 Agreed Conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women.

“This package of services emphasises more than ever the importance of coordinated approaches that place the survivor at the center of response, prioritising her safety and well-being,” said Miwa Kato, UN Women regional director for Asia and the Pacific. WHO estimates one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence globally.

According to UNFPA’s 2016 Regional Snapshot on prevalence of violence against women in the Asia-Pacific region between 15 per cent and 68 per cent women have reported experiencing physical or sexual violence, or both.

“Countries in our region are committed to addressing gender-based violence. As mandated by the World Health Assembly resolution on the global plan of action on violence against women and girls, the health sector, in coordination with other sectors, is stepping up its efforts to provide survivor-centred care by training health care providers and improving access to services,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia Region.

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