Launch of the Gender-Based Violence Observatory Website

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura F. Dogu
Bluefields, January 12, 2016

It is an honor for me to participate in the launch of the Gender-Based Violence Observatory Website, “Voices against Violence,” and to meet with such a committed, inspiring and diverse group. Violence against women and girls crosses all ethnic, socioeconomic and geographical borders, and affects Nicaragua just as much as the United States and all other nations of the world.

As we’ve heard: Gender-based violence is a human rights violation, a public health problem, and a barrier to civic, social, political and economic participation. It has many adverse consequences, for physical and mental health, limited access to education, the increase of costs related to medical and legal services, the reduction of productivity in the home and the workplace, and a decrease in income.

Gender-based violence has many forms and can happen at any moment in a woman’s life. It can include femicide, female infanticide, sexual and psychological abuse, discrimination, sex trafficking, forced or unpaid work, sexual coercion, the neglect of rights to health and educational access, domestic violence and the mistreatment of the elderly. A woman that lives with fear and suffers aggression cannot successfully carry out her role as an individual, family member, coworker or person committed to her community and society.

Independent from where the violence occurs – either in the privacy of our homes or in public places – it hurts us all and, consequently, its prevention should involve as much leadership from women as from men. Promoting education on women and girls’ rights is fundamental in violence prevention.

Wherever there is machismo in a society – either in the United States or any other country – men and woman have to leave behind what they have learned about gender in the past and replace it with a message of equality and human rights. Men’s contribution to end all forms of violence is essential. It is because of this that President Obama recently launched the campaign, “Its On Us,” an effort to prevent sexual assault on university campuses in the United States.

In Chontales, Nicaragua, the NGO “Association for Rural Progress and Development” (APRODER in Spanish), with U.S. government funds, trained male religious leaders in women’s rights, who are making a valuable contribution in stopping domestic violence through their sermons and by being an example for their congregations.

APRODER also has empowered women and provided the necessary support to report these crimes and live a life free of violence in their homes and communities. The web site “Voices against Violence” will present information to raise awareness about the topic of gender-based violence in Nicaragua.

With this Internet platform, the Center for Multiethnic Women’s Studies and Research (CEIMM-URACCAN in Spanish) with the support of Catholics for the Right to Choose, will give access to national data to allow trend analysis, increase the information level, and promote the prevention of these cases of violence. With the aim to secure good results from this effort, it is important that the presented information is reliable.

This requires rigorous and permanent documentation, of the use of information and of transparency in presentation of the methods and criteria used in its collection and analysis. This is an important responsibility, which I am sure will be addressed with great care. We congratulate CEIMM-URACCAN and its collaborators for their contribution in achieving a society that is more equal and conscious of gender-based violence.

Thank you again for the inspiration that you demonstrate in bringing all of us together to contribute to the defense of women and girls’ rights in Nicaragua. As my colleague, Ambassador Cathy Russell, in charge of women’s global matters in the Department of State, said, “Being a woman in any part of the world should not have to be an act of bravery.”

Thank you.

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