Countering gender-based violence starts with you! Conference in Dnipro sets the roadmap

December 07, 2023

“To succeed in the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV) we need to work in partnership across all spheres. Law enforcement and communities must work together to end GBV”, says Maura O’Sullivan, the EU Advisory Mission (EUAM) Ukraine’s Deputy Head of Mission (DhoM) speaking to an audience of nearly 150 international and Ukrainian experts on gender-based violence, gathering in Dnipro for the “Countering gender-based violence starts with you” conference.

EUAM Ukraine organised the conference, co-hosted with the Dnipropetrovsk State University of Internal Affairs and the Ukrainian Association of Women in Law Enforcement (UAWLE) on 5 December 2023, as part of the annual 16 Days of Activism against GBV.

“If we recognise the problems, we can change the practices”, said Kateryna Levchenko, Government Commissioner for Gender Policy, one of the keynote speakers opening the conference.

The general aim of this event was to look into lessons learned for a concrete perspective, a practical work, Ihor Luhovyi, Vice-Rector of the Dnipropetrovsk State University of Internal Affairs, as stressed in his opening words.

Interactive expert panels moderated by EUAM Ukraine’s Gender Advisor, Gisela Duetting, Gender Adviser, and EUAM Ukraine’s Coordination Officer, Iryna Boiko, discussed GBV as a broader phenomenon than domestic violence. Discussions included sexual harassment in the workplace (as this is GBV too). In a nutshell, anyone despite their status and position can become a victim. This was emphasised by Dariia Polich, Chief of Staff in the National Police of Ukraine in Dnipro.

With a background career in the Irish Police Force, Maura O’Sullivan mentioned about the importance of partnership between the police, communities and civil society organisations in response to gender-based violence.

Åse Jansson, Adviser on General Policing in EUAM Ukraine, underlines the uniqueness of each GBV case, and the key role of the police involvement as a deterrent. She also explained that to break the cycle of violence, the perpetrators must be treated in specialised programmes. Also, Pavlo Harkavenko, Nataliia Urman, and Nataliia Novikova representatives of the National Police of Ukraine, mentioned the role of the police in responding to gender-based violence.

Jens van Tricht who leads the Dutch NGO Emancipator, talked about the role of men as “part of the solution”, while discussing men as allies and supporters in the fight against GBV. The Dutch expert also underlined the importance of “promoting caring masculinities”.

Coordinated policies are one of the pillars in the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul convention), which was ratified by Ukraine in 2022.

“I was inspired by the engagement and input I saw at the International Forum “Countering Gender-Based Violence Starts with You” in Dnipro. For me it reflected the commitment of our Ukrainian partners to take responsibility and to push forward with all efforts to end GBV” was Maura O’Sullivan’s takeaway of the day. 

She also thanked the audience for active participation and engagement during the conference.

An orange flashmob by the cadets and students at the Dnipropetrovsk State University brought the conference to a close.