High-level meeting advocates framework for overcoming sexual harassment

Date: Friday, November 30, 2018

The High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Response to Sexual Harassment was the main highlight of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence in Georgia.

Dr. Sen talking about the response of the UN system to sexual harassment and the events that developed globally
Dr. Purna Sen talking about the response of the UN system to sexual harassment and the events that developed globally; Photo: UN Women/David Tabagari

Organized by the UN Gender Theme Group, led by UN Women and USAID/PROLoG, the meeting was aimed at advocacy for the adoption of a legislative framework regulating sexual harassment in public spaces and in the workplace, in line with the relevant regional and international standards.

Dr. Purna Sen, UN Women’s Executive Coordinator and Spokesperson on Addressing Sexual Harassment and Other Forms of Discrimination, participated in the meeting along with representatives of the legislative and executive branches of the Government of Georgia, civil society, the UN Country Team and other development partners to talk about the UN system’s response to sexual harassment, global developments and the role of activism in uncovering and preventing sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment, as one of the forms of gender-based discrimination and inequality, is an important problem in Georgia. According to the 2017 National Study on Violence against Women, carried out by UN Women and the National Statistics Office of Georgia, one in five women reported having experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime.

To eliminate sexual harassment, the Gender Equality Council of the Parliament of Georgia, with the support of the USAID-funded East-West Management Institute’s programme “Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia” (PROLoG), drafted a package of legislative amendments on the prevention of and response to sexual harassment. Dimitri Tskitishvili, Member of Parliament and a member of the Gender Equality Council, talked about the draft law and the importance of carrying out countrywide public awareness campaigns.

In her speech, Dr. Sen talked about the response of the UN system to sexual harassment and the events that developed globally: “Sustainable Development Goal 5 obliges UN Member States to eliminate violence against women. Sexual harassment, as one of the forms of violence against women, is an equally important challenge. Modern society should revise its social and cultural norms.”

Dr. Sen also presented the UN Women publication “Towards an End to Sexual Harassment: The Urgency and Nature of Change in the Era of #MeToo”. The publication is intended for the people working on legislative issues, women’s rights defenders and activists. It combines the experience of UN Women with the guiding principles and best practices for eliminating sexual violence.