On 1 December 2023, a significant event to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was held at the evocative Villa Bonaparte in Rome, home of the French Embassy to the Holy See.
The initiative, promoted by H.E. Madame Florence Mangin, Ambassador of France to the Holy See, and H.E. Madame Annemieke Ruigrok, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See, in collaboration with the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations (WUCWO), gave voice to several female ambassadors to the Holy See and institutional representatives who presented measures and interventions adopted in their countries to inform, raise awareness and above all combat gender-based violence.
The diversity of challenges and proposed solutions highlighted how the painful scourge of gender-based violence is a phenomenon intrinsically rooted in all societies and cultural contexts, crossing national borders and cultural frontiers. In particular, the need and desire emerged to address the problem not only as an individual challenge, but as a global imperative requiring unified commitment, widespread awareness and concrete action.
Voices and actions that inspire
H.E. Annemieke Ruigrok, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See presented FEAR, an organisation dedicated to supporting victims and witnesses of violence. This opened the discussion on the need for strong support networks to tackle the root of the problem.
EU Ambassador to the Holy See H.E. Alexandra Valkenburg emphasised the achievement of a common consensus among states to support victims of violence, stressing the importance of international collaboration.
H.E. Chiara Porro, Ambassador of Australia to the Holy See brought attention to human trafficking, focusing on migrant women workers, a particularly vulnerable category.
H.E. Teresa Susanna Subieta Serrano, Bolivian Ambassador to the Holy See, offered an insight into the social policy for women in Bolivia, highlighting the importance of strategies aimed at ensuring equality and security, starting with a fair legislature.
Lavinia Rocchi Carrera, Secretary General of WUCWO, explained the crucial role of the World Women's Observatory (WWO) in tackling gender-based violence in Africa and shared a testimony of resilience and recovery of a young African human. She pointed out the social campaign 'Ambassadors of Invisibles', inviting those present to join this action in defence of the most defenceless women.
H.E. Maria Efremova, Ambassador of Macedonia to the Holy See emphasised the importance of solidarity as a fundamental tool in the fight against violence.
H.E. Manuela Leimgruber, Swiss ambassador to the Holy See, shared details of the '#16 days #No Excuse' campaign to eradicate violence against women, emphasising the importance of eliminating all forms of justification for such unacceptable acts.
Ambassador Mangin, the host, closed the dialogue by presenting an experiment undertaken in France to protect women with technological devices.
This meeting not only shed light on the challenges women face globally, but also emphasised the need for concrete action, awareness-raising campaigns and international collaboration to end this gross violation of human rights. The call for solidarity and action resounded loudly, promising a continued commitment to a world where no woman is ever left behind.