CSW Side Event: Taiwan Coalition Against Violence 

This article provides a review of the Taiwan Coalition Against Violence (TCAV) side event held during the Sixty-Eighth Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) earlier this month. Our reporter, Soroptimist international’s (SI) Advocacy Policy Advisor Hana Smith, in collaboration with Joseph Mason, SI’s Advocacy and Communications Coordinator, explore the key economic issues and impacts relating to violence against women, as well as how economic strategies can be used to empower women and combat harmful traditional practices.  

The economic impact of violence against women and girls 

Discussions during this event highlighted five crucial strategies to accelerate women’s economic empowerment. These included: advocating for increased resources and job opportunities for women, prioritising finding a work life balance, addressing urgent needs for security, and advocating for the protection of women’s rights, given the stark disparity in legals rights compared to men.  

Among these priorities, violence against women (VAW) was a central focus of discussion, recognised as transcending its classification as solely an issue of human rights due to its impact on women’s full participation in the economy. Specifically, the perpetuation of VAW and its economic impact has been estimated at around $1.5 trillion USD.  

Furthermore, statistics have revealed that one-in-three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime – a reality that not only inflicts immense suffering but also undermines economic and social cohesion. The economic impacts of VAW are widespread and far-reaching, causing significant barriers to women’s health, mental wellbeing, and economic opportunities. To combat this pervasive issue and create safer, more conducive environments for women to thrive, multifaceted prevention approaches were proposed. These approaches aim to challenge harmful gender norms and foster a culture of respect and equality, thus mitigating the prevalence of VAW and promoting women’s empowerment on a broader scale. 

Dr. Nina Smart – Eliminating FGM in Sierra Leone through Economic Empowerment 

Dr. Nina Smart’s pioneering efforts in Sierra Leone underscore a sensitive yet crucial approach to eliminating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by economically empowering women cutters. Operating across continents, Dr. Smart and SWF International have been working to challenge gender-specific harmful traditional practices, particularly in regions where FGM is culturally accepted, such as Sierra Leone.  

FGM encompasses all procedures that alter female genitalia for non-medical purposes, a practice affecting an alarming 230 million women and girls globally, as highlighted by a recent UNESCO study. Despite international conventions condemning FGM and categorising it as mutilation, the implementation of such declarations and commitments remains a significant challenge. The effects of FGM are profound, ranging from severe physical complications like bleeding and childbirth complications, to lifelong psychological damage.  

Importantly, the issue extends beyond mere statistics—it encompasses the experiences of women who are forcibly subjected to the practice, often silenced and unable to voice their suffering. Despite its cultural acceptance, initiatives like Dr. Smart’s recognise the urgent need to break the silence surrounding FGM, challenging deeply ingrained societal norms and advocating for the rights and dignity of women and girls worldwide. 

Addressing FGM requires a multifaceted approach that ultimately eliminates the practice, is culturally sensitive, and empowers local activists on the ground. In regions like Makeni, where ‘Soweis’ (FGM cutters) hold significant influence, it becomes imperative to offer alternative economic opportunities where reliance on FGM as a primary source of income is high.  

Dr. Nina Smart’s organisation places significant emphasis on the economic empowerment of women to better navigate issues such as FGM. For instance, providing training and seeds for women to engage in farming offers a sustainable and alternative livelihood option. Additionally, offering seed money for establishing small businesses or vocational training centres equips women with the skills and resources to pursue alternative professions. 

Crucially, education plays a pivotal role in challenging FGM norms and practices. Dr. Smart’s organisation recognises the importance of education, for girls and boys, ensuring that both genders are equipped with the knowledge to advocate for human rights and reject harmful traditions. Furthermore, involving men and boys in educational initiatives fosters a sense of shared responsibility in combating FGM. Collaboration with religious leaders and community elders is also instrumental in breaking the silence surrounding FGM, emphasising that the issue transcends gender and requires collective action and support from the entire community. 


The TCAV side event at the Sixty-Eighth Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women shed light on critical strategies to accelerate women’s economic empowerment and combat harmful practices like VAW and FGM. The discussions emphasised the urgent need to address these issues comprehensively, recognising their profound impacts on women’s rights, health, and economic opportunities. By advocating for increased resources, job opportunities, and protections for women, alongside promoting education, alternative economic opportunities, and cultural sensitivity, there’s hope for meaningful progress towards a more equitable and just society. 



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe to receive the Soroptimist International Newsletter by email.