Kigali International Conference on the Role of Security Organs in Ending Violence against Women and Girls

26 – 27 October 2010Kigali, Rwanda In response to the pervasive problem of Violence against Women (VAWG), the UN Secretary General on 25 February 2008 launched the Global Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women (2008 – 2015) with a call upon governments, civil society, women’s organizations, private sector, the media, and the entire United Nations system to join forces to end violence against women and the girl child.

26 – 27 October 2010
Kigali, Rwanda

In response to the pervasive problem of Violence against Women (VAWG), the UN Secretary General on 25 February 2008 launched the Global Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women (2008 – 2015) with a call upon governments, civil society, women’s organizations, private sector, the media, and the entire United Nations system to join forces to end violence against women and the girl child.

The overall objective of the Secretary General’s Global campaign is to raise public awareness and increase political will and resources for preventing and responding to all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.

The campaign is to create a favourable and supportive environment for governments, in partnership with civil society, experts, entities of the United Nations system and other stakeholders, to fulfil existing policy commitments.

This multi-year campaign focuses on three areas:
1. Global advocacy,
2. Strengthened efforts and partnerships at national and regional levels,
3. Expanding the role of the United Nations system in the work to prevent and ultimately eliminate violence against women and girls at national, regional and global levels.

In the pursuit of meeting the principle objectives of the campaign, the Rwanda National Police and Rwanda Defence Forces Gender Desk in partnership with the United Nations are hosting a High Level International Conference on the Role of Security Organs in Ending Violence against Women and Girls in Kigali from 26th to 27th October 2010.

Rwanda has been selected as the conference venue primarily because;
1. The country has become a center of learning for the Region: ISANGE “One Stop Center” for Survivors of Child, Domestic and Gender-based Violence has welcomed visitors from Somalia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Burundi and Sudan as well as from UNDP, UNIFEM, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP.
2. The enhanced partnerships with key stakeholders such as local government, medical, psychosocial and legal service providers, women’s rights advocates, Youth Councils, etc.
3. The Rwandan Government has recognized and demonstrated in word and in deeds/practice that in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, in particular MDG 3 (promote gender equality and empower women), as well as sustainable development both women and men must equally participate in development processes.
4. The UNiTE Campaign is aligned to UN global and sub-regional strategies as well as the Rwanda’s National Action Plan (NAP) on the implementation of UN Resolution 1325, Vision 2020, EDPRS, Decentralisation policy, UNDAF, the One UN framework, the CEDAW, Beijing Platform for Action, UNSCR 1820 as well as MDGs.

The conference will bring together Police Chiefs, CID Directors, Senior Police and Military Officers responsible for Gender and Community Policing affairs as well as prominent members of civil society organisations, UN, and academia involved in advocacy and research programs for ending violence against women and girls drawn from different countries both within and outside Africa.
Objectives of the Meeting

The conference will identify key strategies for ending violence against women and girls as prioritised in the Africa UNiTE to end violence campaign, and advocate to:

1. Share best practices and challenges from security organs in preventing and responding to violence against women and girls
2. Increase awareness and accountability for security organs and other stakeholders in ending violence against women and girls as a security, human rights and development issue.
3. Advocate for drafting/reviewing legislation and promote justice to end impunity
4. Advocate for the implementation of the three thematic focus areas of the Africa-UNiTE campaign known as the three ‘P’s’ – (i) Prevention of violence against women and girls; (ii) Provision of services to survivors and (iii) Promotion of justice to end impunity.
5. Strengthen the capacity and increase networking between security institutions within the region for the establishment of appropriate structures and policies for prevention and response to violence against women and girls.
6. Mobilise leaders of security organs for matching resources to commitments to ending violence against women and girls.
7. Develop a declaration that forms the foundation for a future joint plan of action for ending violence against women and girls at regional and sub regional level.

The conference will also provide an opportunity for developing new networks while strengthening those already existing for improved prevention and response to violence against women and girls.

Context and Justification

The Convention on the Elimination of All Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines discrimination against women and requires States that are party to the convention to incorporate gender equality into their legal systems; establish institutions for the protection of women and ensure the elimination of all acts of discrimination against women. It also requires states to submit national reports on their progress. The Convention was adopted in 1979 and came into force in 1981.

Declarations, recommendations and resolutions drawing on CEDAW have been adopted at the regional and international levels that address various aspects of women’s human rights and gender discrimination. In addition, some countries, including Rwanda, have incorporated provisions from CEDAW into their constitutions, legislation, and operations of the security organs.

The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) has been ratified by 27 countries in Africa, Rwanda inclusive, and the Protocol prohibits all forms of exploitation, cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and treatment.

It therefore puts an obligation on states to enact and enforce laws prohibiting all forms of violence against women, identify its causes, and consequences and take measures to prevent and eliminate such violence, eradicate elements in the traditional beliefs and cultural beliefs, which legitimise violence against women, punish perpetrators, and implement programmes for women’s rehabilitation.

The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) that emerged from the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, was also an important milestone in outlining twelve critical areas of concern regarding women’s lives and equality with focus on key issues including violence against women; the effects of armed or other kinds of conflict on women; protection of the human rights of women; persistent discrimination against and violation of the rights of the girl child.

Ten years ago this year, a landmark Resolution 1325 was adopted by the United Nations Security Council to addresses the impact of war and conflict on women and the effectiveness of women as peace agents. It reaffirmed United Nations commitments in BPFA by calling for the increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict. 

In September and October 2009, the United Nations Security Council adopted two resolutions (1888 & 1889) that strengthen women’s protection and address their exclusion from peace building in post-conflict contexts.

In support of Security Council Resolution 1325, Rwanda has actively promoted women’s involvement in the arenas of peace, justice and security and has enacted laws and policies to protect them against sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). This resolution provides an opportune framework for undertaking initiatives aimed at preventing and responding to SGBV.

The Government of Rwanda with different national stakeholders has translated this resolution into a National Plan of Action which has been adopted by the cabinet in 2009. The role and responsibility of different institutions is clearly defined in the document and this provides a good orientation to all relevant stakeholders.

The Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) as part of its mission to protect the population states that sexual and gender-based violence is a doctrinal and a command issue. The RDF has been encouraging the deployment of women in peacekeeping and in partnership with UNIFEM provides training and educational opportunities for women.

The RDF and the Rwanda Police have also established a Gender Desk. In the Darfur region, it has also taken concrete actions to prevent sexual violence, by providing better cooking stoves to women in order to reduce their vulnerability when fetching firewood in hostile areas of the Darfur region.

Though many countries including Rwanda have ratified the above commitments and protocols, violence against women continues as a violation of human rights, a threat to mental and physical health of women and a barrier to development.

The prevalence of violence against women and girls worldwide is alarming, for instance:

• Between 40% and 50 % of women in European countries experience unwanted sexual advances and harassment;
• Over 60 million girls worldwide are married before 18 years of age;
• In the USA a third of women are murdered by their husband each year.

According to a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) violence affects millions of women in Africa. It is pervasive and as a result women continue to suffer in the home and in the community with devastating effects. 
• In a 2005 study on women’s health and domestic violence, the WHO found that 50 per cent of women in Tanzania and 71 per cent of women in Ethiopia’s rural areas reported beatings or other forms of violence by husbands or other intimate partners.
• Another study by Amnesty International found that in South Africa about one woman is killed by her husband or boyfriend every six hours.
• In DRC close to 1,100 rapes are being reported each month, with an average of 36 women and girls raped every day; it is believed that over 200,000 women have suffered from sexual violence since the beginning of the armed conflict. Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda
• More than 3 million girls in Africa are at risk of female genital mutilation /cutting annually.
• In Africa, between 16 and 47 % of girls in primary or secondary school report sexual abuse or harassment from male teachers or classmates.
• Women make up almost 57% of adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Violence or fear of violence may prevent women from negotiating safe sex and it may deter them from seeking HIV testing.
• Across Africa women and girls are regularly subjected to sexual harassment, assault and rape in city streets, public transport or in their own homes and neighborhoods.

Expected outcomes

1. Strengthened capacity of security institutions regarding the establishment of appropriate structures and policies for prevention and response to violence against women and girls in line with the Africa UNiTE campaign.
a. Members of security organs attending the conference have a better understanding of their role and responsibility in ending violence against women and girls as a security, human rights and development issue.

2. Improved information sharing and networking between security organs in Africa in ending violence against women and girls.
Different conference participants develop, present and disseminate information on their best practices and challenges in regard to prevention of violence against women and girls, service delivery for survivors and promotion of justice to end impunity for violence perpetrators.

3. Conference Participants’ Commitment
a. Commitment made by political leaders, security organs and the donor community, to support the campaign to end violence against women and girls.
b. Establish a follow-up mechanism for the outcomes of the conference

Participants

Conference participants will be invited from a total of 22 African Countries and Haiti alongside civil society, academia and specially invited delegates from the UN family and donor community. 

Dates and Venue

26 – 27 October 2010 at the Kigali Serena Hotel Rwanda 
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