Keynote Address - Continuing and New Challenges in the Quest to Eliminate Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences

Date: Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Time: 2.55 pm – 3.40 pm
Location: UNSW Law Theatre G04
Chair: Andrea Durbach, Professor of Law, and Director, Australian Human Rights Centre, UNSW
Speaker(s): Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, and Professor, Department of Public Law, University of Cape Town

States have an affirmative obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights, including fulfilling the responsibility to act with due diligence to eliminate violence against women. Elimination of violence against women is critical to women’s ability to participate in the civil, political, economic, developmental, social and cultural spheres of their communities as full and equal citizens. Unfortunately, pervasive levels of violence, and a culture of impunity, fundamentally jeopardize the realization of women’s right to a life free of violence, and the right to participate fully in their communities. In this presentation, I will discuss the continuing and new challenges to effectively address violence against women as highlighted in my 2014 reports to the HRC and the General Assembly, which include among others: the shift to gender neutrality; the persisting public-private dichotomy in responses to violence against women; the failure of States to act with due diligence in eliminating violence against women; the lack of transformative remedies that address the root causes of violence against women, including individual, institutional and structural aspects; the financial crisis, austerity measures and cuts in social services spending; the shift in understanding of gendered responses and the move towards a focus on men and boys; and the lack of a legally binding instrument to hold both States and non-state actors accountable for this human rights violation, as a violation in and of itself.

Rashida Manjoo holds the position of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences, a post she was appointed to in 2009 by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). She is a Professor in the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and the co-convenor of the Human Rights Program. Professor Manjoo has over three decades of experience in social justice and human rights work both in South Africa and abroad. Her research interests include human rights broadly with a particular focus on women’s human rights. Her UN work over the last five years has included monitoring and reporting on States’ compliance in responding to and preventing violence against women, its causes and consequences, both generally and in different country contexts. Her thematic reports to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly have included a particular focus on state responsibility to act with due diligence in the quest to eliminate violence against women. She has particularly highlighted the interaction of interpersonal, institutional and structural violence, and she advocates a holistic approach to gender-based violence that centers on the interdependence and indivisibility of human rights.