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Initiative to enhance crucial role of women in countering hate speech launched


Unsplash/Dan Edge Hate speech, whether online or offline, poses a threat to democracy and human rights.

The bold new plan is being released a few days ahead of the second UN-stipulated International Day for Countering Hate Speech.

The Plan of Action for Women in Communities to Counter Hate Speech and Prevent Incitement to Violence that Could Lead to Atrocity Crimes (otherwise known as The Napoli Women in Communities Plan of Action) is based on a year-long consultation with women across the world working in the field of countering hate speech and preventing atrocity crimes.

It aim to empower women to contribute more systematically and significantly to countering the scourge and preventing incitement to violence that could lead to atrocities being committed.

‘Enduring challenge’

“First, the prevention of atrocity crimes – genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity – remains an enduring challenge.  It is at the heart of the mission of the United Nations,” noted Secretary-General António Guterres in remarks at the launch event, read by his Chef de Cabinet, Courtenay Rattray.

“Second, atrocity crimes have a gendered dimension, so efforts to prevent and respond to them must also take gender into account,” said the UN chief, underscoring the critical importance of the initiative for two reasons:

The Napoli Women in Communities Plan of Action was drafted from a women’s perspective, which contributed to mainstreaming women’s voices and experiences in its entirety, he said.

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Failure to support

We need to rethink how we approach prevention, starting by acknowledging that we have failed at including women and supporting their role in the prevention of genocide and other atrocity crimes,” noted Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, who is also the UN Focal Point on Hate Speech.Special Adviser Nderitu underscored.

Her view was echoed by the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Maurizio Massari, who is also the Vice President of the UN Economic and Social Council – ECOSOC.

“If we want to fully include a women’s perspective and promote women-led initiatives aimed at countering hate speech, we must ensure that their voices are heard, and even more so, that their voices count at the table where decisions are taken,” noted Ambassador Massari.

Deliberations on The Napoli Women in Communities Plan of Action began in Napoli, Italy, with a meeting convened by OSAPG, on 13 and 14 June 2022, which resulted in Monday’s policy document, urging all relevant stakeholders to ensure that women are engaged – have the opportunity to engage, or have an increasing capacity to engage – in countering hate speech and preventing incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes.

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