Viewing cable 09VILNIUS708

09VILNIUS7082009-12-23 13:01:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
DE RUEHVL #0708/01 3571301
R 231301Z DEC 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 VILNIUS 000708 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/23/2019 
REF: A. SECSTATE 124579 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 672 
Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission John M. Finkbeiner for re 
asons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (U)  SUMMARY:  Domestic violence, human trafficking and 
gender-based discrimination, including pay inequality, are 
among the major women's issues in Lithuania.  The Embassy 
maintains a regular dialogue with the GOL and a variety of 
NGOs regarding women's issues, and has recently supported 
projects designed to increase women's empowerment, advance 
women's rights and fight trafficking in persons (TIP), 
domestic violence and gender-based discrimination.  Current 
needs include more training for women's groups in lobbying, 
advocacy and public relations; identification of methods and 
tools to increase public awareness of domestic violence; 
gender-sensitivity training for judges; and training for 
social workers in rehabilitating domestic abusers.  The 
recent opening of the EU's Gender Equality Institute in 
Vilnius provides an opportunity to focus Lithuania's 
attention on women's issues.  In its role as president of the 
Community of Democracies (CD), Lithuania has recently asked 
the USG to take the lead within the CD on gender equality and 
other issues related to women and democracy.  Embassy would 
welcome a visit by Ambassador-at-large for Global Women's 
Issues Melanne Verveer, who could highlight the new 
institute's work as well as bring attention to the needs of 
women in Lithuania and support to the NGOs that support those 
needs.  End summary. 
Dwindling Government Funding to Address Continued Concerns 
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¶2.  (U)  In Lithuania, domestic violence is problematic. 
While weak official statistics mean that the level of 
violence against women is poorly documented, NGOs estimate 
that nearly two-thirds of women have experienced domestic 
violence at least once in their lives.  Although a draft law 
has been proposed, no specific law currently targets domestic 
violence, which is prosecuted under general assault laws.  To 
initiate an investigation, a victim must file a complaint. 
Most cases do not ever reach the courts, and thus the attacks 
go unpunished. 
¶3.  (U)  While the GOL and NGOs have teamed up to combat 
human trafficking effectively, Lithuania remains a source, 
transit and destination country for women trafficked for 
commercial sexual exploitation.  A severe budget crisis has 
forced the GOL this year to cut the resources it can provide, 
especially in the area of victim assistance.  Most of that 
money went to NGOs, which have been able to replace only some 
of it with increased funding from the EU or individual 
European governments. 
¶4.  (U)  Legislation provides equal opportunities for women 
and men, but discrimination against women still exists.  The 
participation of women in economic and political life has 
increased -- women serve as President, parliamentary Speaker, 
Defense Minister and Finance Minister -- but, especially in 
smaller towns and rural areas, their participation remains 
much lower.  In business, very few women have reached top 
ranks -- in "Veidas" magazine's most recent listing of the 30 
richest Lithuanians, only two women appeared.  Women are 
underrepresented in managerial ranks and, overall, are paid 
less than men.  In 2008, women in private-sector jobs 
received an average of 80 percent of what men were paid for 
comparable work; in the public sector, the figure was 78 
Embassy Support for Women's Issues 
¶5.  (U)  In 2009, the Embassy identified women's issues as a 
key target area for grants administered by the Public Affairs 
Section.  Among the resulting grants: 
--  The Lithuanian NGO Women's Issues Information Center 
received funding to organize a 16-day campaign to increase 
awareness of domestic violence.  The Ambassador participated 
in a roundtable discussion of the issue and gave a radio 
interview on the topic (ref B). 
-- The Women's Issues Information Center received support for 
a series of seminars and consultations providing legal 
information to women victims of domestic violence.  The 
seminars and consultations were provided in 10 different 
regions of Lithuania. 
VILNIUS 00000708  002 OF 003 
-- The Lithuanian NGO Center of Equality Advancement received 
a grant for a project to assist female domestic-violence 
victims by building their self-confidence through activities 
such as community-building workshops, seminars on self 
defense and on advocacy for women and a lessons-learned 
roundtable discussion. 
-- The Lithuanian NGO Human Pro received a grant to provide 
seminars in which women with cervical cancer received 
coaching and other help to assist in their rehabilitation and 
skills development.  The seminars were held in five regions 
of Lithuania. 
-- The Missing Persons Families Support Center, the leading 
NGO for TIP education, prevention and victim-support efforts, 
received a grant for trafficking-prevention activities. 
¶6.  (U)  Since 2005, 55 Lithuanian women have participated in 
USG exchange and visitor programs, including the Fulbright 
Scholar, Fulbright Graduate Student, International Visitor 
Leadership, Hubert H. Humphrey, Voluntary Visitor and 
Benjamin Franklin programs and the Study of the United States 
NGOs -- Good Intentions, but Lacking Expertise/Experience 
--------------------------------------------- ------------ 
¶7.  (U)  More than 80 NGOs across Lithuania work on women's 
issues.  They carry out projects on equal opportunities in 
the fields of employment, education, politics and 
decision-making, as well as on fighting domestic violence and 
human trafficking.  In 2000, many of these NGOs established 
the Coalition for the Protection of Women's Human Rights in 
Lithuania.  Today, the coalition unites 61 NGOs. 
¶8.  (U)  Despite their good intentions and networking, 
Lithuanian NGOs dealing with women's issues fall short in 
several areas: 
-- They lack experience and expertise in lobbying government 
officials and advocating at all levels for changes in policy. 
-- They lack sufficient expertise in conducting successful 
public-awareness and -support campaigns.  They are not 
practiced at creating attention-getting promotional materials 
or other visuals to get their messages across and garner 
wider support.  They do not use effective strategies to move 
their agendas forward with the public, potential donors or 
targeted audiences. 
Areas for Improvement 
¶9.  (U)  NGOs have told us that they see two areas in which 
training of others would have a positive impact on women. 
First, they believe it is crucial to provide judges, most of 
whom are men, with gender-sensitivity training so that they 
will take domestic-violence cases more seriously, which 
should lead to more convictions and longer sentences in such 
cases.  Second, they say that social workers, whether working 
for NGOs or local governments, need education and training in 
how to provide rehabilitative services to abusers, to break 
their destructive behavior patterns.  At present, such 
training is virtually nonexistent in Lithuania. 
EU Gender Equality Institute - an Opportunity for Lithuania 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
¶10.  (U)  On December 16, Ambassador Derse participated in 
the opening ceremonies for the European Institute for Gender 
Equality, the first EU entity to be based in Lithuania. 
Institute director Virginija Langbakk, who grew up in 
Lithuania, said she hoped that having the institute here 
would contribute to positive changes in Lithuania, which she 
said lags behind other European countries in gender equality. 
 Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, during her remarks 
at the ceremony, noted the Ambassador's presence and 
commented positively on the U.S. interest in women's issues. 
Seimas (parliament) members Marija Ausrine Pavilioniene and 
Birute Vesaite, both of whom have been active in promoting 
women's rights, also attended. 
¶11.  (C)  On December 21, Ambassador Derse met with the MFA's 
Zygimantas Pavilionis, Coordinator for Lithuania's Presidency 
of the Community of Democracies.  Pavilionis (who is the son 
of Seimas member Pavilioniene) told her that Lithuania had 
recently asked the United States to take the lead within the 
VILNIUS 00000708  003 OF 003 
CD on gender equality and other issues related to women and 
democracy.  He said gender issues were important to 
Grybauskaite and such a step by the U.S. would not only help 
build democracy globally, but could strengthen the 
U.S.-Lithuania relationship.  "I think this is the key to the 
heart of my president," Pavilionis said.  He said he hoped 
the United States would formally agree to the request by the 
next CD meeting in Washington on February 18, in advance of 
Grybauskaite's anticipated March visit to the United States. 
¶12.  (C)  The opening of the new EU institute, which follows 
closely the coming to power of women as Lithuania's president 
and Seimas speaker, has created an opportunity for Lithuania 
to focus on women's issues as never before. Now would be an 
opportune time for a visit to Lithuania by 
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne S. 
Verveer.  Such a visit would highlight the importance the 
United States places on women's issues, and underscore USG 
interest in GOL action to prioritize these issues on its 
policy agenda.  A visit by Ambassador Verveer also could 
focus attention on and provide a much-needed boost to the 
efforts of those NGOs, parliamentarians and government 
officials who are working to improve women's lives and 
opportunities in Lithuania, as well as help cement a stronger 
relationship with Grybauskaite.