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Human Rights Council opens annual discussion on the human rights of women, focusing on violence against indigenous women and girls

MORNING
 
GENEVA (16 June 2016) - The Human Rights Council this morning opened its annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women, with its first panel discussion focusing on the theme of violence against indigenous women and girls and its root causes.
 
Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, in her opening remarks invited the Council to investigate that most corrosive of attacks on the dignity of women: gender-based violence, which could not be understood in isolation because it was a cause and consequence of subordination, exclusion and discrimination.  The prevalence of violence against indigenous women was not known, and the lack of comprehensive civil statistics and demographic surveys limited research and prevented the analysis needed.  Still, there was enough to know that indigenous women and girls were three times more likely to suffer violence than other women.
 
The panel members included Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Tarcila Rivera Zea, Founder and Director of Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, journalist and indigenous peoples’ rights activist; Josephine Cashman, indigenous lawyer, Founder and Managing Director of the Riverview Global Partners; and Jennifer Koinante, Executive Director of the Yiaku Laikipiak Trust. 
 
Chief Wilton Littlechild, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, moderated the panel discussion.  In his opening remarks, he called on everyone, especially men, to think about the concrete steps they could take to improve the safety and well-being of indigenous women and girls throughout the world.
 
Ms. Šimonović said the international legal framework defined two levels of State obligations to eliminate discrimination and violence against women: first, responsibilities related to violence perpetrated by the State itself, and second, the responsibility related to violence perpetrated by non-State actors, private persons, organizations or enterprises.  The obligations of States were well established but they were not fully implemented.
 
Ms. Rivera Zea said that indigenous women needed inclusion and education, principally investment in an educational system for each person in every system.  Indigenous women’s inclusiveness reflected cultural diversity.  Indigenous people had a great deal to contribute, and indigenous women in communities without external or colonial agents developed their capacities toward contributing to sustaining their families. 
 
Ms. Cashman said first Australian women and their children continued to live as second-class citizens and victims of violence and abuse that resulted from ugly attitudes towards women and children, including tolerance of abuse and violence, and low expectations of men’s behaviour.  Several programmes were trying to change this reality, and what was needed was to ensure these types of services received adequate funding.
 
Ms. Koinante stressed that violence against women, including indigenous women, was worse in situations of insecurity.  Indigenous women disproportionately suffered poverty and were denied representation; they were also left out of the planning and design of strategies and programmes that concerned them.
 
During the clustered interactive dialogue, delegations noted that sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls was one of the most brutal manifestations of human rights violations.  It was also remarked on that despite their natural resources, indigenous people accounted for the world’s poorest people as a result of racism, and geographical and political marginalisation, which in turn placed them in a vulnerable situation, whereby they suffered from intersecting and multiple human rights violations.  Some speakers observed that the lack of access to resources and the presence of new forms of violence, including extractive industries and mono-cultural practices, were crucial to understanding violence against women.
 
Speaking in the discussion today were Honduras,  Australia, Dominican Republic on behalf of Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the European Union, Pakistan on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Denmark on behalf of a group of Nordic and Baltic countries, Canada on behalf of a group of countries, South Africa, Iran, United States, Namibia, Panama, Chile, Paraguay, China, Peru, Italy, El Salvador, Bolivia, Suriname, Spain, South Africa, Russia, and Indonesia.
 
International Development Law Organisation took the floor, as did the following non-governmental organizations: Penal Reforms International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Indian Law Resource Centre, Arab Commission for Human Rights, and the Women’s International Democratic Federation.
 
In a midday meeting, the Human Rights Council will conclude its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Independent Expert on international solidarity.  It will then start its clustered interactive dialogue with the Working Group on transnational corporations and human rights, and with the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression. At 3 p.m., the Council will hold the second part of its annual full-day discussion on the human rights of women, with a panel discussion focusing on women’s rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
 
Opening Statements
 
CHOI KYONG-LIM, President of the Human Rights Council, said that the Council would hold its annual full-day discussion on the rights of women today and  that the panel discussion this morning would focus on violence against indigenous women and girls and its root causes.  He said that the panel would be moderated by Chief Wilton Littlechild, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and then introduced the panellists: Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Tarcila Rivera Zea, Founder and Director of Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, journalist and indigenous peoples’ rights activist; Josephine Cashman, indigenous lawyer, Founder and Managing Director of the Riverview Global Partners; and Jennifer Koinante, Executive Director of the Yiaku Laikipiak Trust.
 
KATE GILMORE, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, recalled the common commitment to respect, protect and promote the rights of indigenous people, and in particular the rights of indigenous women.  The Council was invited to investigate that most corrosive of attacks on the dignity of women: gender-based violence.  Violence against women could not be understood in isolation because it was a cause and consequence of subordination, exclusion and discrimination.  The ecology of hate and disregard was the climate in which violence flourished, together with poverty which disproportionately affected women, denial of access to land, barriers to education and early marriages.  The exposure to sexual violence and rape that indigenous girls suffered from was intensified by long journeys to school.  Indigenous women, like other women in the world, had to struggle to enjoy their sexual and reproductive health, but they also faced additional barriers in the form of services badly adapted to their needs, and distance to health centres.  This translated into higher rates of infant and maternal mortality, teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, gender violence and trafficking. 
 
The prevalence of violence against indigenous women was not known, and the lack of comprehensive civil statistics and demographic surveys limited research and prevented the analysis needed.  Still, there was enough to know that indigenous women and girls were three times more likely to suffer violence than other women; in Canada for example, Aboriginal women were five times more likely to die from violence than Canadian women.  In Australia, from 2001 to 2010, the rate of domestic assault reported to the police was six times higher for Aboriginal women.  In Guatemala, 40 per cent of indigenous girls were married before they reached the age of consent.  Their access to justice was limited because of language barriers, male domination and other issues; this meant impunity for crimes and violations perpetrated against indigenous women and girls.
 
Statements by the Moderator and Panellists
 
CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and moderator of the panel discussion, said that today’s discussion marked a new opportunity for all to double their efforts to ensure concrete action.  He introduced the panellists, before noting that there was growing awareness of the impact of colonialism from the past and of continued socio-economic marginalization in contemporary times on the safety and well-being of the women and girls in indigenous communities.  He called on everyone, especially men, to think about the concrete steps they could take to improve the safety and well-being of indigenous women and girls throughout the world.  It was a sacred responsibility for all.
 
Mr. Littlechild asked Ms. Šimonović to outline the legal context in relation to State obligations to act with due diligence to protect, prevent, investigate, prosecute and remedy violence against indigenous women and girls, and also to inform about the multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination and violence they faced. 
 
DUBRAVKA ŠIMONOVIĆ, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, recalled that the two International Covenants and other United Nations human rights treaties contained the non-discrimination clause under which States had the obligation to act positively by enacting laws and practices that guaranteed the exercise of those rights.  The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women provided a gender perspective to the general and gender neutral human rights law and specified obligations related to the elimination of discrimination and violence against women and the enjoyment of women’s human rights.  This Convention treated violence against women as a form of discrimination against women and provided a comprehensive definition of discrimination against women.  Also, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples specifically provided that States should take measures, in conjunction with indigenous people, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoyed the full protection and guarantee against all forms of violence and discrimination.  The Special Rapporteur also mentioned the regional human rights instruments applicable in cases of violence against indigenous women, such as the Inter-American Convention of the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women and others, which provided additional obligations to prevent and combat violence against women, including indigenous women. 
 
Ms. Šimonović said the international legal framework defined two levels of State obligations to eliminate discrimination and violence against women: first, responsibilities related to violence perpetrated by the State itself, and second, the responsibility related to violence against women perpetrated by non-State actors, private persons, organizations or enterprises.  The commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of women was now the Goal n°5 of the Sustainable Development Agenda and it contained targets on the elimination of discrimination and violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres.  Finally, Ms. Šimonović said that the obligations of States were well established but they were not fully implemented.
 
CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and moderator of the panel discussion, asked how indigenous communities should be contributing to preventing and combatting violence against indigenous women and girls?
 
TARCILA RIVERA ZEA, Founder and Director of Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, journalist and indigenous peoples’ rights activist, said that indigenous women needed inclusion and education, principally investment in an educational system for each person in every system.  Indigenous women’s inclusiveness reflected cultural diversity.  Indigenous people had a great deal to contribute, and indigenous women in communities without external or colonial agents developed their capacities toward contributing to sustaining their families.  There were still indigenous women who had knowledge to share, for example regarding growing food, and in some situations of political conflict, they had shouldered responsibilities as heads of households.  When the international community spoke of the rights of women that should include the right to freely decide how many children to have, to have health in their homes and families, and for that to be shared with society as a whole.
 
Chief Wilton Littlechild, Moderator, asked Ms. Cashman how she thought the safety of indigenous women could be ensured, and how could the violent behaviour of offenders be redressed as a preventive measure.
 
JOSEPHINE CASHMAN, Indigenous lawyer, Founder and Managing Director of the Riverview Global Partners, speaking as a Worimi woman from New South Wales, Australia, who had been appointed by the Australian Prime Minister in 2013 to the Indigenous Advisory Council and who served as Chair of the Safe Communities Subcommittee, said Australians should be proud of their achievements with gender equity, and their heightened consciousness of women’s issues.  Although optimistic about the progress in formal gender equity, she noted that women continued to live as second-class citizens and victims of violence and abuse that resulted from ugly attitudes towards women and children, including tolerance of abuse and violence, and low expectations of men’s behaviour.  Such attitudes prevented these women from living free of violence and contributed to a climate in which violence against women was condoned.  These women were the First Australians and their children.  This was the uncomfortable truth that Australians needed to confront honestly and urgently.  While many indigenous leaders and other activists claimed the shocking indigenous incarceration rates should be attributed to a racist system locking up indigenous individuals for minor offences, the truth was that indigenous prisoners were in the majority convicted of acts intended to cause injury. 
 
The truth was that for every Aboriginal offender there were usually at least two indigenous victims.  The statistics relating to violence in the Northern Territory were shocking.  The rate of hospitalisation for assault by a family member for indigenous females was 86.5 times as high as the rate for non-indigenous females.  In Central Australia in the Northern Territory, this figure was 95.6 times the non-indigenous female rate and ten times the indigenous rate nationally.  There were three major factors entrenching violence and abuse in indigenous communities.  These were low expectations, lack of employment and poor social norms.  Ms. Cashman noted several programmes that were trying to change this reality, notably the Charlie King’s No More campaign and the Andrea Mason’s NPY Women programme. What was needed was to ensure these types of services received adequate funding.
 
CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Panel Moderator, asked Ms. Koinante about the challenges and promising practices in addressing violence against indigenous women and girls in Africa.
 
JENNIFER KOINANTE, Executive Director of the Yiaku Laikipiak Trust, stressed that violence against women, including indigenous women, was worse in situations of insecurity.  The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 were crucial for the well-being of the Kenyan nation as a whole and in particular its indigenous people.  Together with the Goals, and its Vision 2030, Kenya aspired to be a globally competitive and prosperous nation in which all its citizens would enjoy a high quality of life.  Insurmountable challenges that cut across political, cultural, social and economic factors continued to stifle individual and collective efforts by indigenous women in Africa as they sought to overcome poverty and enjoy basic rights and access to justice.  At the bedrock of the root causes of violence against women and girls was socialization of girls and the integration of violence against women in the socio-cultural fabric of ancient African traditional societies.  For example, the African girl child, and especially indigenous girls, were forced into marriages already at the age of four. 
 
A recent study by Plan International indicated that one in four girls in Kenya would bear a child before she turned 18.  Harmful traditional practices were known to be a pathway to violence against women and girls, but little or no effort was being put in place to effectively prevent them.  Indigenous women disproportionately suffered poverty and were denied representation; they were also left out of the planning and design of strategies and programmes that concerned them.
 
Discussion
 
KARLA CUEVA, Under Secretary of State of Honduras said that public policies must be built to ensure a holistic way of addressing the issues, ensuring that women and indigenous children had access to being agents of their own development. 
 
NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA, Ambassador for Women and Girls of Australia, said that Australia’s national plan supported indigenous communities to develop local solutions to prevent violence.  She welcomed the panel’s view on best practices by engaging indigenous children and youth to instil values from an early age about rejecting violence against women. 
 
Dominican Republic, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the empowerment of women lay at the centre of concerns, reflected in the adoption of policies and measures to eradicate gender-based violence.  European Union expressed full commitment to the empowerment of women, noting that sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls was one of the most brutal manifestations of human rights violations, and asked the panellists to elaborate on the specific challenges faced by indigenous women and girls.  Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that in Beijing in 1995, the international community had agreed on measures to mitigate violence against women, and noted that Islam condemned all forms of violence against women, adding that a straightforward condemnation of all forms of violence against women was needed.  Denmark, speaking on behalf of a group of Nordic and Baltic countries, said that indigenous people were often among the most marginalized groups, and that the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls was rightly part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The panel was asked to share best practices on how to ensure the full realization of indigenous women and girls’ full sexual and reproductive rights.  Canada, speaking on behalf of a group of countries, said the situation was simply unacceptable.  No country should be above scrutiny of their human rights records.  Canada noted domestic initiatives in the countries on whose behalf the statement was delivered.  
 
South Africa said violence against women and girls was a pervasive and persistent global phenomenon, which included female genital mutilation, rape, trafficking, forced and early marriage and domestic violence.  Violence against women was deeply rooted in systematic gender inequalities linked to some cultural practices.  Iran said in spite of their natural resources, indigenous people accounted for the world’s poorest people as a result of racism, and geographical and political marginalisation, which in turn placed them in a vulnerable situation, whereby they suffered from intersecting and multiple human rights violations. United States said indigenous women in the United States suffered disproportionate levels of violent acts, most of which were perpetrated by non-indigenous perpetrators.  The United States of Women Summit built on an ongoing effort to promote access to protection measures and services and ensure accountability for perpetrators.  Namibia said it continued to fight the scourge of violence against women, which included intersecting and multiple forms of violence against women.  Namibia reiterated its commitment to the Addis Ababa Declaration.  Panama said sexual violence, trafficking, domestic violence, and killings based on gender continued to happen, and States had to address them in a holistic approach. 
 
Penal Reforms International, in a joint statement with Friends World Committee for Consultation was alarmed at the over-representation of indigenous women in prisons around the world, and called on States to address this issue, as well as the issue of violence and discrimination of incarcerated women, including by staff in prisons.  Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom said women faced many forms of violence which could not be understood without taking into account their special circumstances, such as lack of access to resources, and noted the presence of new forms of violence, including extractive industries and mono-cultural practices.  Indian Law Resource Centre, in a joint statement with  Native American Rights Fund said that the root cause of the alarming rate of violence against Alaskan native women was the discriminatory legal system.
 
Remarks by the Moderator and Panellists
 
CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Panel Moderator, asked the Special Rapporteur to inform the Council about the multiple, intersecting forms of discrimination and violence that indigenous women faced. 
 
DUBRAVKA ŠIMONOVIĆ, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, said that gender-based violence affected indigenous women differently because they experienced intersecting forms of discrimination.  The majority of countries did not have adequate data on gender-based violence, and the implementation of international human rights norms related to indigenous women remained limited.  This created a gap which led to widespread impunity for acts of violence against indigenous women committed by States and non-State actors.  Ms. Šimonović welcomed the reassurances by Honduras that it was investigating the murder of Berta Cáceres, the defender of indigenous rights.  All States should establish gender-related killing or femicide watch, which was particularly important for indigenous women in order to focus on the prevention of such killings.  In order to prevent, data must be collected and then analysed to establish what was and was not being done by States to prevent the crimes and support survivors of violence.  It was important to stress that indigenous women were often caught in conflicts and wars and were also victims of militarized violence.
 
CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Panel Moderator, asked about specific challenges that indigenous women faced in defending their rights.
 
TARCILA RIVERA ZEA, Founder and Director of Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, journalist and indigenous peoples’ rights activist, stressed the need to well define violence against indigenous women and said that often violence was committed by States themselves.  It could be part of armed conflict, exploitation, harmful practices such female genital mutilation, or forced expropriation of territory.  For an indigenous woman who did not have access to education, who was poor, and who was seen as shameful – how could she access justice on an equal footing with others?  The best investment was to implement policies appropriately, and also to ensure that there were policies specific to indigenous women.
 
CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and moderator of the panel discussion, asked if any good practices had been seen.

JOSEPHINE CASHMAN, Indigenous lawyer, Founder and Managing Director of the Riverview Global Partners, said that in many indigenous communities there were high rates of sexual abuse.  One major issue Member States should consider was that indigenous people came under the same law as everyone else, and police ability to respond in culturally appropriate ways was important.  Aboriginal victims faced severe issues when they approached the criminal justice system.  They could be ostracised by their community and risked losing their children by seeking justice.  The United Nations and the Human Rights Council should consider having baseline data so the international community  could compare countries’ successes when working with women and girls.  Once there was data, innovative ways to address violence against women and children could be looked at.
 
CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and moderator of the panel discussion, asked what were some bankable solutions that might be proposed.
 
JENNIFER KOINANTE, Executive Director of the Yiaku Laikipiak Trust, said that the Office of the High Commissioner should try to identify, with indigenous women, harmful traditional practices across Africa, as well as work toward developing a comprehensive participatory process regarding accelerating the process of eliminating violence against women.  A baseline study on violence against indigenous women should be implemented.  There was a need to establish and support gender violence prevention.
 
Discussion
 
Chile said it was tackling the question of violence against women in all policies concerning gender and indigenous peoples, including adopting measures to guarantee that women and girls could have access to information.  Paraguay said the eradication of violence against women was a national priority which involved a holistic approach, including education, prosecution of perpetrators, as well as eradicating poverty, while bearing in mind customs and customary law.  China said indigenous peoples had made a unique contribution to society, but had been marginalized due to historic conditions.  China called upon countries to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals to address the root causes of violence.  Peru said that the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation on the violence between 1980 and 2000 had shown a correlation between poverty and violence; therefore Peru was attacking structural causes of poverty and marginalisation through numerous programmes.  Italy said gender empowerment was key to fight against gender-based discrimination and violence; it asked Member States to share best practices to fight against violence in indigenous communities.
 
International Development Law Organization said that 18 countries still provided no legal protection for victims of domestic violence and many others failed to provide adequate forms of access to justice.  The organisation combatted violence through  strengthening legal and institutional frameworks, and supporting legal representation of women.
 
Earlier this year, El Salvador said it had adopted the Constitutional amendment which recognized indigenous people and the obligation to develop their ethnic and cultural identity, thus cancelling the historical debt.  Violence against women was a priority in Bolivia which had criminalized femicide and adopted a comprehensive act to ensure a life free of violence, while the rights of indigenous people were guaranteed in the Constitution.  Violence against women was a violation of the human rights of women, said Suriname, which had launched the Orange Day Campaign and the HeForShe Campaign not only in urban but also in rural areas.  Spain said that indigenous women had a crucial role to play in addressing violence and discrimination against them and their leadership should be not only recognized but supported.  Strategies to deal with violence against women, including indigenous women, must be comprehensive and address the root causes of racism, poverty and marginalization, said South Africa, stressing the need for cooperation with indigenous communities as States could not do it alone.  Russia said that stamping out crimes was only possible thanks to the combined efforts of States and civil society and said that it was drafting the national strategy to counter violence against women and children which would cover all women in the country, including indigenous women.  Indonesia said it recognized and respected local communities, and that empowering women and girls was the best strategy to address violence against them. 
 
Arab Commission for Human Rights called attention to the situation of indigenous women in conflicts, particularly in Syria and Iraq where Daesh was committing heinous crimes against women from ethnic and religious minorities.  Women’s International Democratic Federation took note with concern of the ongoing systematic nature of violations and violence against women around the world and requested that punishment be meted out to all perpetrators of gender-based violence.

Concluding Remarks
 
CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Panel Moderator, gave the floor to the Special Rapporteur for concluding remarks.
 
DUBRAVKA ŠIMONOVIĆ, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, noted that the question had been raised on how to connect different United Nations mechanisms when dealing with indigenous women, which was a very good question.  It was also important to use mechanisms that were available, such as the individual communications under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which for example had been used with respect to Canada and which was now showing results.  She reiterated the importance of focusing on holistic approaches.
 
TARCILA RIVERA ZEA, Founder and Director of Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú, journalist and indigenous peoples’ rights activist, applauded progress made and noted the continued need to educate in order to eliminate racism and racial discrimination.  Indigenous people should not be seen as welfare recipients, and there was a need to decolonize systems of indigenous justice.  Women had to be included in justice, and there was a need to defend community justice as long as that did not run counter to other considerations.  There was a need to adopt and implement a national legal system compliant with standards which would regulate the options of ordinary justice systems and guarantee the full access of indigenous people.  Other challenges were related to the empowerment of indigenous women and girls by promotion and leadership and political participation.  The overall goal of Agenda 2030 was to reduce gaps which led to indigenous women and girls being underrepresented.  In that connection, what was most important was political commitment to achieve gender equity.
 
JOSEPHINE CASHMAN, Indigenous lawyer, Founder and Managing Director of the Riverview Global Partners, said aboriginal women in Australia made up 3 per cent of the population but 27 per cent of the prison population.  In response to the questions on best practices, she stated that violence was related to substance and alcohol abuse, lack of economic opportunities, and isolation. The Government’s Sentence for Job Programme therefore sought to address these issues in a holistic approach.  There was a low literacy rate, and thus literacy classes were provided in prisons.  A few had prisoners graduated as engineers recently, and the offending rates in the Northern Province had dropped from above 70 per cent to 20 per cent.  Violence rates had been reduced.  These were good examples of programmes.  The prisoners paid rent to the State so that the programme was cost neutral to the government.  Women empowerment programmes were also very important, including safe houses.  Data was also important, as it provided a platform to learn from mistakes and to not continue programme funding that did not lead to the required results.  Ms. Cashman concluded that programmes that looked at economic empowerment programmes, such as the Sentence for Job Programme, were working in Australia.  There were positive aspects to indigenous culture, but the problem that continued to plague was violence against women and children.
 
JENNIFER KOINANTE, Executive Director of the Yiaku Laikipiak Trust, concluded by saying that an assessment of all the United Nations programmes on women was needed in order to make them more effective, including by providing financial support.  One example was simplifying the Trust Fund and taking action on the recommendations.  Ensuring that gender-based violence and sexual violence was tackled at all levels of government and social life was mandatory.  Second, a transformation of the international system for humanitarian response was needed, so that the needs for women and all affected by gender based violence were addressed.  Lastly, there was a need to integrate infrastructure programmes in gender-based violence programmes, so as to enable indigenous women living in rural areas access to health care.

CHIEF WILTON LITTLECHILD, Member of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Panel Moderator, thanked the panellists for reminding all of the importance of education in a cultural context, both for indigenous and non-indigenous populations.  He referred to the notions of corporate and environmental violence, which impacted indigenous women and girls.  He encouraged States to continue to work on the collection of data, with a view to address under-reporting of violence against women.  Things would get better for the indigenous peoples in the future if the role of women got more prominent, and if boys and men participated in such efforts. 

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