Opening Remarks of Ms. Nobuko Horibe, Director of UNFPA for the Asia-Pacific Region, Delivered by Mr. Jose Ferraris, Representative in Indonesia, at the Workshop on Strengthening National Capacities to Collect VAW Statistics in the ASEAN Region, Jakarta, Indonesia, 6-9 August 2012
On behalf of the regional director for Asia and the Pacific for United Nations Population Fund, Ms. Nobuko Horibe, I am honored to open this workshop on “Strengthening National Capacities to Collect VAW Statistics in the ASEAN Region.”
Eight years ago, representatives of ASEAN’s ten member states met here in Jakarta and forged a declaration. Concerned that violence against women is an obstacle to equality, development, and peace, they pledged to strengthen efforts to eliminate violence against women in the region, both individually and collectively. Today’s workshop is a concrete fulfillment toward that promise of regional cooperation and knowledge sharing. UNFPA is pleased to help facilitate it.
UNFPA is an international development organization that has a keen interest in data as relates to all areas of its mandate. UNFPA promotes the right of every woman, man, and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. We are committed to ensuring the right to sexual and reproductive health of all people. In particular, UNFPA has a mandate to support developing countries in strengthening policies and programmes to reduce poverty, and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.
The 2004 ASEAN Declaration underscored the need for reliable statistics in order to assess the prevalence of violence against women and monitor changes over time. Such statistics are needed to inform and guide development of national legislation, policy, and programmes that can prevent violence against women and protect its survivors. However, few ASEAN countries have reliable data on this problem. Without timely and accurate indicators, it is impossible to track progress or provide information that compels policy-makers to act toward eliminating violence against women.
Around the world, as many as one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way—most often by someone she knows, including by her husband or another male family member; one woman in four has been abused during pregnancy. The percentage of women who experience sexual violence at least once in their lifetime ranges between 6 and 58 percent. Violence against women results in unknown numbers of deaths in the Asia-Pacific region.
Violence against women reflects and reinforces social inequities with men. It compromises the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its survivors. It encompasses a wide range of human rights violations, including sexual abuse of children, rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, trafficking of women and girls, and several harmful traditional practices. Violence against women has been called “the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world.” Any one of these abuses can leave deep scars, jeopardizing women's lives, bodies, psychological integrity, and freedom. Violence may have profound effects—direct and indirect—on women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health, including:
Furthermore, violence robs women of their right to full and free participation in society—not just as social beings—but as self-sufficient producers and earners. Coercion, subservience, and stigma create a self-reinforcing cycle.
UNFPA recognizes that violence against women is inextricably linked to gender-based inequalities. Violence against women serves—by intention or effect—to perpetuate male power and control. It is sustained by a culture of silence and denial of the seriousness of the health consequences of abuse. When women and girls are expected to be generally subservient, their behaviour in relation to their health, including reproductive health, is negatively affected at all stages of the life cycle.
Women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from want and from fear. Empowering women is an indispensable tool for advancing development and reducing poverty. Empowered women contribute to the health and productivity of whole families and communities and improve the prospects of the next generation. In order to advocate for this vision and measure our progress, we must first cultivate our capacity to collect data on the problem.
This workshop aims to address the needs of stakeholders—such as national health, statistics, and planning offices, as well as those working in women’s empowerment—to more effectively promote and integrate the collection, analysis, and use of data on violence against women in their national plans and programmes.
We will learn about various methodologies available for measuring violence about women. We will also hear the stories and experiences of various ASEAN countries in collecting, disseminating and using data on the nature, prevalence, causes, consequences, and impact of violence against women. We will discuss issues related to the definitions of violence against women, the relevance and use of administrative data and statistical data, and the under-reporting of violence. We will also discuss the need for coordination among national actors in technical aspects of researching and responding to violence against women, such as the use of data and advocacy efforts. We will also discuss regional and sub-regional cooperation in areas such as capacity development, information sharing, and best practices.
In closing, I would like to emphasize that UNFPA, our sister agencies, and our international development partners are committed to support national efforts to eliminate violence against women. As the experience of peers will attest, collecting data on this subject is neither easy nor inexpensive, and we stand poised to offer our support.
I wish you a successful workshop.
Thank you very much.
 World Health Organization/London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2010), “Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women: taking action and generating evidence,” Geneva, World Health Organization.
 García-Moreno, et al. (2005), “WHO Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women. Initial results on prevalence, health outcomes and women’s responses,” Geneva: WHO.