Do you envision a world free of violence against women and girls? Where women and girls in each country enjoy and live in safe homes and communities? Where perpetrators of VAW would be cast into the pit of forgetfulness?
Sadly, estimates by the UN Women paint a grim picture “…violence against women and girls affects up to seven in ten women worldwide” who will experience being beaten, raped, abused or mutilated in their lifetimes. 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence has not been criminalised.
Every year, on 8th March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements during the International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD is now an official holiday in several countries in the world and in Africa in Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia.
The theme for IWD 2013, “A promise is a promise”. Time for action to end violence against women coincides and proposes action to that of the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) taking place in New York from 4th to 15th March 2013 which asserts “elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”.
These themes provide impetus for all women and men to unite and create stronger collaboration to promote peace in their communities and coordinate joint efforts to bring an end of VAW/Gs. The theme also spells out our responsibility to work towards ensuring change in attitudes, practices and behaviour, as partners in development.
FEMNET reiterates the IWD-2013 message by Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director noted “discrimination and violence against women and girls has no place in the 21st century. It is time for Governments to keep their promises and protect human rights in line with the international conventions and agreements that they signed onto. A promise is a promise,” she said.
The responsibility to eliminate and protect women and girls from violence is primarily the responsibility of the State, as the ultimate duty bearer, but of course collaboration and cooperation with other non-state actors notably the civil society organizations will go along in curbing it.
Global and regional initiatives exist that spell out actions that should be taken, e.g.
- Zero Tolerance Now on SGBV in all ICGLR countries
- One Billion Rising
- UNiTE to End Violence against Women Campaign
- Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women platform
- 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence
As we reflect and commemorate the International Women’s Day this year, we urge you to purpose to make a difference. Speak and act to ensure that the future for women and girls is safe and worth a living.
In solidarity with women and girls across Africa!
Executive Director, FEMNET