Women activists have called on African leaders to ensure laws and policies adopted to protect women rights are implemented to end violence facing women on the continent.
The call was made by heads of Action Aid International chapter in various countries on the continent during a news conference organised by Action Aid Rwanda on Thursday in Kigali.
The officials were in the country to attend an event to mark 35 years of action and alleviating poverty among women and promotion of women’s rights by Action Aid International Rwanda.
They said that, while a lot has been done to promote gender equality, there is still a long way to go to ensure that women’s rights are respected to help them achieve socio-economic development.
Issues associated to patriarchal systems where a women was considered to be dependent on men and lack of implementation of laws and policies were cited among issues still affecting women rights.
“Women’s rights are human rights and if you look back 20 years, 30 years ago we have become good at promulgating laws and policies which support women’s rights; however, when it comes to implementation that is where we seem to be lagging behind,” said Ziba Nalucha, the country director of Action Aid in Zambia.
“It depends on how we are prioritising women’s rights on the continent, more than 50 per cent of the population on the continent are women and being the majority, when you look at poverty on the continent, it continues to wear a feminine face, the challenge out there is that our governments need to start putting in place not just policies and programmes but also the resources to be able to implement those programmes,” she noted.
According to Nalucha, the rights of women to own land, for instance, is a dream in some countries, including hers, which hampers women development and needs revisiting.
Toendepi Kamusewu, the acting country director of Action Aid in Zimbabwe, said development in Africa would always go slow if women’s rights are not respected.
According to Josephine Uwamariya, the country director of Action Aid Rwanda, in Rwanda alot has been achieved over the past 35 years, community was engaged, and women are now able to influence policies in various ways.
She said Action Aid Rwanda focused on child education, alleviating poverty among women through various approaches, fighting violence against women through promotion of women’s rights and fighting polygamy, among others.
She said one of their main achievement is having directly supported over 35,000 vulnerable people, mostly women.