The experiences shared in the Working Group point to a clear conclusion: effective action to end violence against women requires multi-faceted human rights strategies that address the causes and consequences of violence against women in all its dimensions. No single strategy can address the root causes of violence against women, deter specific acts of violence, respond to the needs of survivors, mobilize communities against violence and hold perpetrators accountable. As members of the Working Group emphasized again and again, action on all these fronts is needed because violence against women is inextricably linked to systemic gender discrimination. Discrimination makes women vulnerable to violence and restricts their access to justice. And violence reinforces discrimination in the family and in public life.
Advocates in all regions are adopting human rights-based strategies to deal with violence and underlying discrimination against women. Women and men everywhere and in all circumstances have the rights to life and integrity of person and to freedom from discrimination. By affirming international human rights principles as a basis for action, advocates build a common understanding of violence against women and the steps necessary to eliminate it. Members of the Working Group reported on a wide range of innovative programmes that promote women's human rights as means of preventing violence and empowering survivors of violence, including the rights to political participation, education, equality in the family, equal access to and control over economic resources, physical and mental health, and the freedoms of information, expression, and association. Their experiences also demonstrate that initiatives to end violence against women are most likely to succeed where there is a culture of respect - by Governments and civil society - for all human rights.
Women's groups and other NGOs are working, sometimes in cooperation with government, sometimes in advance of government action, to develop different elements of an integrated approach to violence against women. They are doing so in the face of serious obstacles such as limited resources, resistance by legal, political and social forces, and underdeveloped institutional and communications infrastructures. While advocates necessarily focus their efforts on particular strategies, they emphasize the need for multifaceted, mutually reinforcing strategies. For example, members of the Working Group agreed that legal strategies to end impunity for violence and ensure remedies for survivors are essential. Laws must be changed and new laws adopted where necessary. Yet legal strategies cannot succeed in isolation. Advocacy campaigns and public education are necessary to build support for legal reform and ensure the implementation of laws. Public education, community dialogue and training are necessary to transform the social and cultural beliefs and practices that foster violence against women. And action to promote and protect the full range of women's human rights is necessary to empower them to live lives free of violence.
The most common strategies for combating violence discussed in the Working Group were:
Legal strategies related to criminal justice and other areas of the law
Mobilization and political advocacy
Training and education for officials in the justice system and for groups in civil society
Service provision for women
Using regional and international procedures
Research and documentation
Using media and communications technologies
Changing male behaviour
Women and other advocates look to the United Nations to support their efforts: by encouraging and catalyzing action by governments against women wherever it occurs; and by ensuring that its own policies, programmes and activities contribute effectively to the elimination of violence, especially its country level activities. The information shared in the Working Group points to the need to make the international human rights standards and procedures available for addressing violence against women better known, especially the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the work of the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women. (See Appendices)