The Non-Aligned Movement is committed to the protection of the rights of women. The Movement has reiterated that the violence against women and girls, including manifestations of extreme violence, continues to be a major obstacle to the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women. In this regard, NAM Member States have reiterated their firm commitment to join efforts and continue combating all forms of violence against women and girls until its complete elimination as well as recognizing the importance of engaging men and boys.
In 2020, Africa and the world at large experienced an unprecedented surge in Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) as a result of the lockdown and movement restrictions to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Labelled the “shadow pandemic”, it was estimated that for an average lockdown duration of three months, there would be an additional 15 million cases of VAWG; 31 million for an average of six months; 45 million for an average of nine months; and 61 million if the average lockdown period extends up to one year. Across the African continent, in particular, gender data shows exacerbated gender inequalities under COVID-19, placing women and girls at greater risk of VAWG. The African leaders have taken cognizance of this situation and have taken important initiatives
One such significant recent initiative taken in Africa in this respect was the inaugural African Men’s Conference on Positive Masculinity hosted by Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Tshisekedi is also the current Chairperson of the African Union. The Conference was attended by South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa, Senegal Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo among others. The Conference was also hosted in partnership with the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) under its patron, Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf who is also a former President of the Republic of Liberia.
The Men’s Conference on Positive Masculinity in Leadership for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) in Africa took place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo on November 25, 2021, which is also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls. The Kinshasa Declaration was adopted during this conference.
The Declaration expressed concerns at the persistence of violence against women and girls in Africa, linked to harmful socio-cultural norms and practices, despite the commitment of States to eradicate all forms of discrimination against women and girls, in particular, sexual violence in times of conflict and humanitarian and natural disasters. The Declaration condemned all forms of discrimination and violence against women and committed to ensuring that the necessary policies and measures are put in place by Member States to address firmly any form of impunity. The Declaration at Kinshasa launched the African Union Campaign on the Ending Violence Against Women and Girls and made calls to implement a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of violence against women and girls in conflict and post-conflict situations.
African leaders at the Conference committed to support the Chairperson of the African Union Commission to implement the newly developed Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index as a tool to accelerate the realisation of the rights of women and girls. The Maputo Protocol Scorecard and Index has been developed to support effective gender equitable COVID-19 response and recovery monitoring and implementation of the Maputo Protocol. It underscores the need to uphold women’s rights obligations encapsulated in the Protocol during the COVID-19 crisis, to mitigate the harsh impact of the pandemic on women.
The leaders at Conference stressed their resolve to provide necessary resources to address violence against women and girls and also called on the private sector to develop and implement policies and programmes to address violence against women and girls and women’s economic and financial empowerment and inclusion in line with the goals of the new African Women’s Decade on Financial and Economic Inclusion for African Women 2020-2030.
The Conference was successful in mobilizing commitment and galvanising action by the men in leadership in African countries to accelerate the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls in Africa at all spheres and at all levels.
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