21 of the 37 governments adhering to the OECD Gender Recommendation listed violence against women as one of the three most crucial gender equality issues in their country. It is in this urgent context that the first OECD High-Level Conference on Ending Violence Against Women was held on February 5th and 6th, 2020 in Paris.
Coming from various countries, organizations, political representatives, lawyers and survivors gathered to share their experiences and discuss how to address, prevent, and eradicate intimate partner violence.
The two-day conference was marked by moments of intense emotion, including the intervention of Charlotte Kneer, CEO of Reigate and Banstead Women's Aid, a survivor of domestic violence herself. Her harrowing testimony underlined the importance of working directly with survivors, who best understand the needs of victims. A range of important topics were also discussed and identified as priorities. Including young men in this combat is essential as well as helping them to recognize and transform the current inequitable belief systems they have grown up with about what it means to be a man, and how these damaging ideas about manhood can have negative consequences on health, relationships, sexual violence, bullying, mental health concerns, substance use, and other challenges, through programs that work to free them from the “Man Box”. As Gary Barker, President and CEO of Promundo-US pointed out, working with boys from an early age is key, in order to end the intergenerational cycle of violence.
Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to support survivors, something that la Maison des Femmes has implemented since 2016, is effective in treating the consequences of violence. Ghada Hatem-Gantzer, founder of la Maison des Femmes de Saint-Denis, presented this unique structure and the importance of mobilizing a diverse set of players: from civil society, to police officers, to the political level.
Companies also have a key role in this fight, highlighted by Jane Pillinger, a global expert on gender equality and gender-based violence at work. She recalled the results of the survey "How does domestic violence impact the workplace?" carried out by the European network #OneInThreeWomen, co-founded by the Kering Foundation and the FACE Foundation. This study proves the need for implementing concrete actions internally, for example, creating company policies to formalize measures on available support for survivors of domestic violence and exploring and mitigating the risks that abusers pose in the workplace.
The Call to Action for the OECD: Taking Public Action to End Violence at Home concluded these two days and focus on the following points: