Statement of Finland by Ambassador for Gender Equality, Ms. Katri Viinikka at Oslo Conference on Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Crisis 23.–24.5.2019
Excellences, Humanitarians, Friends,
Earlier this year, my colleague participated in a humanitarian donor field
mission. The group visited an IDP camp of 15 000 people, mostly
women and children as is often the case. They visited the registration
center, the clinic, the school, and joined a community meeting to hear
the thoughts and concerns of the IDPs. The donors saw hundreds of
people, talked with dozens of women and girls but yet, my colleague
said, there was something that could not be seen nor heard.
There was no gender-based violence.
There were no pre-teenage girls pregnant with their second or third
babies. There were no mothers raped while fleeing their hometowns in
search for protection. There were no women sexually abused by their
intimate partners or relatives.
Yet, it is estimated that at least one in five internally displaced or refugee
women has experienced sexual violence. In the IDP camp my colleague
visited, there should have been thousands of survivors of SGBV.
But they could not be seen nor heard.
Stigma and fear are powerful factors that hide the true nature and
frequency of sexual violence in humanitarian emergencies. When
women, girls, men and boys do not feel safe enough to let their
experiences of SGBV to be seen and heard by the very people that
would be ready to help and support them, it hinders the protection and
proper assistance to people who are victims or in risk of becoming
victims of rape or sexual abuse.
Finland welcomes the Oslo conference and applauds the member states
and organizations that have taken this initiative. It is vital that we make
sexual and gender-based violence visible in humanitarian emergencies.
The 2018 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia
Murad could not have been better placed. Their efforts to make visible
the sexual violence in conflicts inspires us all to double our efforts for the
In this spirit, Finland will give the following pledges:
Finland allocates 1,5 million euros to support UNFPA’s work in Syria to
prevent sexual and gender-based violence and provide sexual and
reproductive health services in Youth Centers and Safe Spaces for
women and girls. In 2017–2019, the total funding of Finland to UNFPA’s
activities in Syria is 6 million euros.
We will also continue our multi-year funding to the ICC Trust Fund for
Victims, earmarked for GBV work in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely
Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Côte d’Ivoire.
On political level, Finland commits to raise sexual and gender based
violence in emergencies as one of the key humanitarian priorities during
its EU Presidency starting on 1 July. Finland will highlight the sexual and
reproductive health and rights, and regrets that references to SRHR
were not included in the UNSC Resolution 2467.
Finland commits to make visible especially the sexual and gender-based
violence experienced by women and girls with disabilities. Studies show
that they have a far higher risk of becoming victims of SGBV than
women and girls without disabilities. However, persons with disabilities
are often stigmatized and their needs are left unattended in humanitarian
You can guess how many persons with disabilities there were in the 15
000 people IDP camp my colleague visited. Yes, you guessed right.
Survivors of SGBV are often invisible. The survivors of SGBV who also have disabilities are often invisible
We as humanitarians, we as women and men working for gender
equality must make sure that, from now on, we will do our best to make
survivors of SGBV visible. We must deliver on our commitments and
deliver all victims or potential victims of SGBV in humanitarian
emergencies the most important message:
You will be seen. You will be protected.
[Check against delivery]