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ICRC: Remarks by Ambassador Hamamoto at Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Side Event

Venue CICG, Room 18
Geneva,
Thursday, December 10, 2015

First, I would like to recognize and thank Baroness Anelay for her leadership in gender equality and for her deep commitment to tackling sexual violence in conflict situations.

Last week, the UN’s State of the World Population Report emphasized that the health needs of women and girls must not be treated as an afterthought in times of crises, but instead must be placed at the center of any humanitarian response.

The same is true when it comes to protecting women and girls at the onset of an emergency, an area that’s been repeatedly identified as an especially weak link.  And needless to say, an area of increasing importance with the number of crises we are facing in the world today.

This is precisely why Secretary Kerry launched the Safe from the Start initiative with UNHCR and other partners two years ago — to focus on how to better address gender-based violence at the onset of an emergency.  And that’s also been one of the United States’ priorities when leading the Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies this past year.

Leadership of this initiative will transition to Sweden next month, and the United States looks forward to continuing to work closely with Sweden — and with all Call to Action partners – in the coming year.

We now have a roadmap for the next five years, which outlines concrete actions all humanitarian stakeholders can take to change the policies, systems, and mechanisms used for emergency response.  And we’ve all agreed to hold each other accountable, a true achievement and an indispensable tool as we’ve heard from our panelists to measure progress in our efforts to stop gender-based violence.

Everybody in the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement has a role to play.  We encourage all of you to look at this roadmap, to identify what actions you can take to help promote these goals, and if you are not already a Call to Action partner, I urge you to consider joining the Call to Action.

We need a zero-tolerance policy toward gender-based violence against anyone — men, women, and children – and we need you to help make it happen.

Gender-based violence is insidious, affecting developed and developing countries alike.

Vice President Biden, who authored the Violence Against Women Act while in the Senate, has been a leader in efforts to end violence against women and girls for two decades.  And of course, under President Obama’s leadership, the United States released the first-ever U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally just over three years ago.

This is also a priority for me too.  Preventing and responding to gender-based violence is a central pillar of the U.S. Mission’s signature gender initiative – The Future She Deserves — an initiative that has been embraced by International Geneva and highlights what we can accomplish when we work together.  And I pledge to continue to make this a top priority in the coming year.

Together, I’m confident — as Secretary Kerry said just a few weeks ago at the Action Ministerial on Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Emergencies – he said I’m confident that together “we can be voices for people who don’t have a voice and provide protection for people who’ve never had the luxury of this kind of protection.”

So let’s work together, and work hard, to really make a difference in the lives of these victims and survivors.

Thank you.