Argentina – Telam Agency – June 12th, 2013

“UNWOMEN needs a national budget with a gender-based focus so that violence against women does not go unpunished, this is our priority” stated Moni Pizani, the first regional director for the Americas and the Caribbean.

“Our priorities include political participation, economic empowerment, non-violence against women, the gender budget and issues of women, peace and security” said Pizani to Telam News Agency at the UNWOMEN Headquarters only a few meters away from the Buenos Aires Obelisk.

With regards to gender-based violence, Pizani said that “it is not like there is an increase in incidents, but rather that women are simply afraid to go and make the legal claim”. She added that “we have had a breakthrough in women denouncing the violence they experienced and trusting the system to do so, which is something that did not happen previously”.

She further noted that “we still have many who go unpunished, as records are not built properly so as to ensure absolute justice”.

It is thus that Pizani concluded that “there is important work to be done in the judicial system so as to draw attention to what we do not learn at school, which is that violence against women is one of the most common human rights violations”.

“UNWOMEN works with the Supreme Court alongside the Women’s Bureau. It is there in which I met two excellent female judges that I work very well with: Elena Highton de Nolasco and Carmen Argibay” she told us.

Pizani explained that she had begun working as a lawyer in 1977 when the “issue of violence against women was one that was of an absolute private nature and that people were afraid to talk about it. Gradually, it slowly became easier and soon women went from saying nothing at all, to confessing their situation to a neighbor, but in the context of “couple problems” rather than aggressions or violations of a basic human right”.

She recalled of when she worked with children’s issues at the National Minor’s Institute and when cases would be reported as “marital problems”. Violence was not even considered, despite the victims suffering injuries like a blow to the jaw.

It was only later in which “civil society organizations fully understood the nature of violence against women and began to enact laws. This happened at the end of the 90’s when governments recognized this problem which could partly be due to the Beijing Conference that took place in 1995”.

She stated that it must be the country that assumes the problem needs intervention and they must enact the laws to properly address it. She added that the issue should be one of UNASUR’s main priorities and that it should be included in the Declaration of Presidents.

Pizani participated in a women leaders’ breakfast on behalf of the International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS and The More Peace Less AIDS Foundation.

“The breakfast aimed to bring together female leaders such as athletes, businesswomen, legislators, journalists, artists and The Women Judges’ Association of Argentina, to speak about how each of us understand the women’s rights issue” said Patricia Pérez to Telam, from ICW Latina and the UNWOMEN Global Civil Society Advisory Group.

Pérez added that “female leaders can have an influence but if national and provincial governments get involved, change could be even greater. It is the idea that every specific key area of UNWOMEN could have a direct relationship with the countries’ leaders”.

“Considering the position of women now, the situation is different, however if you see the overall picture, there is a common theme which needs to be addressed and that is women have necessities and the only way in which we can address these is by joining forces. This is why UNWOMEN is important for us as they can help us achieve our goals” emphasized Pérez.

Pizani told Telam how it was “an enriching experience to get to know leaders from different sectors”.

Moni Pizani was previously the Vice-Minister for Infrastructure in Venezuela and President of the Foundation for Community Development and Municipality-Building. Through this position, she developed a project to better the popular neighborhoods of Caracas with the help of the communities for the infrastructure construction. This experience is recounted in the book "¿Habitar o ejercer ciudadanía?".

UNWOMEN also deals with the situation of women within the Armed Forces. There is a strong presence of female peacekeeping forces in Haiti and Cyprus, 12% are Argentine troops, now at the Colonel level.

Pizani also mentioned that “UNWOMEN has an agreement with the Economic Ministry to develop budgets with a gender-oriented focus so as to change their original structure to pinpoint the specific needs of both women and men”.

Pérez concluded that “all women’s’ issues matter. If a budget is not gender-oriented, then the difference is the nature of information provided and that to initiate real change, the budget has to be fundamentally different”.

Télam - http://www.telam.com.ar/notas/201306/20975-onu-mujeres-propone-un-presupuesto--para-el-enfoque-de-genero-y-contra-la-violencia.html