at the V Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention
and Criminal Justice, Courmayer Mont Blanc, 15-16 October, 1995

The International Federation of Business and Professional Women is a voluntary organisation founded in 1930. Its scope is to organise business and professional women in all parts of the world to use their combined abilities and strengths for the attainment of high standards in business and the professions. The Federation works for equal opportunities and status for women in the economic, civil and political life in all countries. It encourages women and girls to acquire education, occupational training and advanced education and use their occupational capacities. The Federation represents business and professional women in more than 104 countries.

The Federation has a significant impact in influencing legislative issues. Many affiliates have been very active on CEDAW and other legislative matters. The Federation encourages the affiliates to be increasingly pro-active on legislative matters regardless their local, national and international nature. The Federation also encourages its members to write to their governments on various issues of importance. The significant impact of the Federation has been done on a regional basis through the synergistic forces of affiliates through the region.

The Federation recognises that there is no possibility of development if there is no peace. Unfortunately, we have all been witnesses of the sad fact that over last few years the UN has been trying to settle the conflicts round the globe. Women and girls suffer in the most direct way the consequences of these conflicts - they are subjects of torture, rape, mutilation, dispersion and murder. The statistics say that 80% of the world refugees are women and children; 60 million girls are denied access to primary education; 2/3 of world's illiterates are women; domestic violence against women has become more common than car accidents. The statistics say that in developed countries one woman is physically abused every 8 seconds and one is raped every six minutes. Far more are subjected to ongoing emotional and psychological abuse. Legal systems in some countries have recognised a husband's right to chastise or even kill his wife recognised disobedient or is thought to have committed adultery. Wife beating and bride burning are accepted customs in some countries. Genital mutilation that heavily affects women's health is still a traditionally accepted practice in some countries. Women have been traditionally trafficked across borders for prostitution. More than 1 million children are forced into prostitution every year; while few statistics are available it seems that many of the women trafficked are mere girls aged 8 to 16.

However, very often those the most affected categories suffer in silence. The sad fact is that women are absent or inadequately represented at the highest levels of decision-making in matters of crime prevention, security and peace.

This meeting represents a good opportunity for the Federation to express its direct interest in the issues of crime prevention and criminal justice programmes as well as its determination to ensure that women be better represented in this important sector in near future.

The Federation recognises the need for pointing more importance on the nature of advice to women with regard to crime prevention as well as the character of women's beliefs about crime - prevention behaviour. The legislation round the world should be more severe in terms of penalties for repeated sex offenders, those who commit sex crimes against girls, those convicted of selling drugs to pregnant women, those involved in case of domestic violence, etc.

This year is internationally important one: we celebrate 50th Anniversary of the UN and the IV World Conference on Women was held in Beijing. The Federation was represented at the Beijing Conference and supports the concrete commitments expressed in the Platform for Action. The Federation considers this conference as a call for better protection of human rights in general and particularly the rights of women. Together with the UN, without which this Conference would never have come into being, we are aware we should do much more to prevent crime and violence against women. On national level we firmly support strengthened legislation with more severe actions to be undertaken in terms of education and training, adequate training of the judiciary and police and correctional services to ensure fair treatment of women who have been targets of crime, increase recruitment of women into the police forces and ensure higher representation of women in the judiciary that can help safeguard women's rights and dignity.

Mara Mosca and Livia Ricci.

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