Lamin Manneh: Opening remarkson the occasion of International Women’s Day at the Kigali Library

07 Mar 2013

The Honorable Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, and Guest of Honor, Ms Oda GASINZIGWA

Excellence Ambassadors here present,

The Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Rwanda, Ms JESSYE LAPENN,

Our Host, the Director of the Rwanda Library Services, Ms Jennifer TURATSINZE,

Heads of UN Agencies and partners, Colleagues…

It is a great honor and pleasure to welcome you all and I thank the Rwanda Library Services for hosting us today to celebrate International Women’s Day. In addition, I would like to thank the US Embassy and the French Cultural Center – Institut Français for their support to this event.

The 2015 target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is approaching. Discussions are under way among Member States, the UN family, academia, development partners, and civil society about what a post-2015 framework should look like.

The food, fuel, climate, economic, political, and security crises of the first twelve years of this century have reminded us of how fragile development gains can be in the face of shock and adversity.

The post-2015 development framework will need to reflect the new global context fully, while remaining committed to the unfinished business of the MDGs. In the years since the Millennium Declaration was signed, much has changed.

Projections suggest that in 2015 almost 1 billion people will still live in extreme poverty. Many still will not have clean water or improved sanitation. Many will still be suffering from hunger, malnutrition, the burden of preventable ill-health, gender discrimination, and more. Whether or not global MDG targets are met, such suffering is inconsistent with the vision for dignity, equity, freedom, peace, and prosperity of the Millennium Declaration. 

The post-2015 framework can be seen as the next stage of implementation of the vision of the Millennium Declaration. To rise to that challenge, the international community needs to agree on a reinvigorated and transformational global agenda.

There is an emerging consensus on the desirability of designing one framework which is aimed at achieving poverty eradication within the context of sustainable development. This reflects the consensus reached at Rio+20, where Member States agreed that sustainable development goals should be made “coherent with and integrated into the UN Development Agenda beyond 2015”.

A process is underway at the UN to explore how sustainable development goals could be formulated. We hope that Rwanda will also play a key global role in promoting the concept of SDGs. I assure you that you can count on the One UN as a partner in realizing this vision.

With the significant threats to development posed by climate change and environmental degradation now readily apparent, Member States at Rio+20 agreed that development which is not sustainable is not worth having. Human development and protecting the planet’s resources need to be approached as two sides of the same coin.

Taking this approach forward will require countries to adopt integrated approaches which advance social, economic, and environmental objectives simultaneously. The One UN in Rwanda will work with the Government to adopt such ‘triple wins’ approaches. 

The MDGs have already shown us that global consensus is possible. They have also shown us that we need a common framework owned by governments and citizens and that there must be accountability within and between countries.

As such the MDGs have achieved many positive results. But we need to learn from the mistakes we have made.

For example, what the MDGs did not do was make the connection between addressing underlying inequalities and making progress on all development goals. We were not able to deal with the discrimination that prevents women from enjoying equal rights, equal opportunities and equal participation and leadership. And we failed to recognize that widespread violence against women and girls continues to undermine all of our development goals.

This exclusion, this discrimination and this violence against women are among the biggest obstacles we face in advancing sustainable development. This is why it is time for action to end violence against women and girls. A promise is a promise. This is the UN theme of today’s celebrations of IWD.

There is no country in the world where women and girls live free of the fear of violence. No leader can claim: This is not happening in my backyard. One billion women, one in three worldwide, will experience sexual violence in their lifetimes. In some countries, up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence. And far too many women search for justice in vain.

With the new development framework, we have a real opportunity to do so. We must seize this opportunity to tackle the deeply entrenched cultural and social norms and discriminatory laws and policies that hold back women and girls from reaching their full potential and allow violence against women and girls to continue.

In Rwanda, Gender-Based Violence among women and girls remains an area of serious concern – in 2010 at least 56% of women aged 15-49 years had experienced physical or sexual violence (DHS 2010).

In response, the Government of Rwanda in partnership with UNICEF, UNFPA and UNWOMEN, decided to create a One Stop Center to provide comprehensive response, care and support services for girls and boys, women and men who had survived gender based violence (GBV) or child abuse.

With the help of the One UN, the Isange One Stop Centre (OSC) was established in July 2009. All types of violence are treated at the centre, making Isange a safe place for all survivors of violent acts and help avoid the stigma that usually follows women and children who visit support services specifically targeting GBV survivors.

In 2010 the Government of Rwanda in partnership with the UN, was able to open another OSC at Gihundwe Hospital in south-western Rwanda. The challenge now is to meet the needs of Rwandan women, men and children who are survivors of GBV and child abuse in other areas of the country. The Government of Rwanda intends to expand the services provided by One Stop Centres to each of the 30 Districts in the country so that all survivors of GBV and child abuse have access to comprehensive care and support.

The success of the One Stop Center model Rwanda has reached beyond its borders. Rwanda has now been chosen to host a center of excellence in the area of GBV prevention and response in the region.  A great achievement indeed!

But more needs to be done!

It is time to act. People are rising, mobilizing everywhere, and governments are committing to improve laws and policies. From 4 – 15 March, the United Nations is convening governments and activists from around the world to discuss strategies to end violence against women and girls at the 57th Commission on the Status of Women.

Harness the momentum with us. Tell everyone you know that they can be part of a global movement to end violence against women.

Join us to say NO to violence against women and girls

Thank you.

For more information on this event, please contact
Elena Ganan Communication Unit
elena.ganan@undp.org