Africa Unites to End Violence against Women and Girls during Conflict Situations

Jul 12, 2013

On July 11th, 2013, H.E. Paul Kagame officially launched the continental CPX code-named Africa UNITE campaign to end Violence against Women and Girls during a ceremony which was attended by representatives of 33 African countries’ security organs (Photo: Sara Hakansson, UNWomen)

Kigali, July 12th, 2013 – Members of security organs from 33 African countries met in Kigali to discuss, train, and share lessons on the implementation of measures and regulations set up in their countries to fight violence against women and Girls (VAWG). “There is need for harmonized trainings amongst Security Organs to ensure that VAWG is ended, especially during post-conflict contexts” said the Chief of Defence Staff, General Patrick Nyamvumba in his statement.

In his remarks, Mr. Manneh admired the Government of Rwanda’s leadership in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, and for according high priority to the fight against VAWG. Addressing the participants, the Resident coordinator added “It is my hope that this Command Post Exercise will culminate into innovative strategies to inform security organs to contribute to the global agenda to end VAWG…It is my sincere wish that you will forge strategic partnerships when you go back to your countries in order to implement concrete strategies to end VAWG”.

General Nyamvumba stated that VAWG is a violation of human rights during conflict situations, where rape is often used as a weapon of war. That despite the legal framework put in place in many African countries to fight VAWG, it remains a considerable concern on the continent, which needs to be given the attention it deserves and tackled urgently.

The Resident Coordinator concluded that “There is significant economic cost to societies and countries that spirals out of rape … prosperous societies are peaceful, are free from any form of violence and have psychologically stable citizens who grow up in natural ways, are capable of studying effectively, and engaging in productive social, political and economic ventures”.

VAWG is not African!

On July 11th, 2013, during the Launching ceremony of the Africa UNITE CPX to end Violence against Women and Girls, Rwanda’s President, H.E. Paul Kagame reminded the audience that violence against women and girls is not only an African issue, as research has shown that one in every 3 women around the world is beaten, forced into sex or abused during her lifetime, and that every day 4 women are murdered by a male partner.  VAWG is even worsened and reinforced by cultures, which limit women’s rights, their decision-making power, and their recourse to protection against violence.

President Kagame also stated “Cooperation between various security organs is crucial for our countries to enhance capacity in fighting VAWG…We have moral obligation to make the necessary efforts to fight VAWG…CPX seeks to look at what next steps we need to take to end VAWG”.

Speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary General, Ms. Mbaranga Gasarabwe, the Assistant UN Secretary General for Safety and Security said that VAWG constitutes an obstacle to peace and security and it is a heavy burden to national economy, and that the presence of the gathering of the security organs in Rwanda shows commitment for Africa to end VAWG across the continent. Ms. Mabaraga said that among the key missions of the UN is to maintain international peace and security and that the UN has therefore a purpose to achieve peace and security for girls, boys, women, and men.

General Nyamvumba and the Kigali International Conference Declaration[1] (KICD) Chairperson, CPP Andre Ndayambaje commended the One UN Rwanda’s support to the Command Post Exercise (CPX) activities. Through UNDP and UN-Women, the One UN supports the KICD campaign to end violence against women and girls during conflict situations.

The CPX code-named “Africa UNITE” took place in Kigali from July 8th-12th and it is the first program of its kind to take place in Rwanda. “Africa UNITE” is the UN Secretary General’s campaign and is also a pan-African initiative to fight VAWG. The overall purpose of the CPX “Africa UNITE” is to improve the perceptions of dimensions of VAWG and to strengthen the capacities of Africa’s security organs in detecting and responding to the scourge both at home and during Peace Support Operations. The objectives of this exercise were to:  1) Provide gender sensitive training to law enforcement personnel of the African continent; 2) Enhance awareness of the different dimensions of VAWG in different settings; 3) Inform the development of Standard Operation Practices (SOPs) in ending VAWG; and 4) Share best practices in ending VAWG.

[1] The Kigali International Conference for Africa’s security organs was held in Kigali in October 2010, and it concluded with proclamation and signing of a 14-point Kigali International Conference Declaration (KICD) by Police Chiefs. One of the points calls upon Africa’s Security Organs to do joint exercises geared at ending VAWG

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