There is need for collaborative efforts to fight gender-based violence and conflicts in the Great Lakes region.
The call was made at a meeting on fighting gender based violence, last Friday in Kigali organised by MenEngage Africa (MEA), an alliance of organisations working with men and boys to promote gender equality in the Africa region, and the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (Rwamrec).
Participants called on the private sector, government institutions, the United Nations agencies, international and civil society organisations operating in the Great Lakes region and from across Africa to work together to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in the region.
The meeting highlighted the need to fast-track engagement on the implementation of the United Nations Security Council’s Reconciliation 1325, on peace-building negotiations and meaningful inclusion of all stakeholders, including women, in the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence.
Speaking during the meeting, Jackline Kamanzi, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Gender and Family promotion, said there is also need to pay attention to men whose rights are violated.
“We always talk about women when we are addressing gender-based violence, but again there are many cases where men are denied their rights and suffer domestic violence at homes because of their wives. Simply because men do not like to be ashamed or have the fear of being undermined in the society, they decide to keep quiet.
This is the time to create awareness that they also understood what they are meant to do,” she said.
Bafana Khumalo, the programme director for strategic partnerships at South African based Sonke Gender Justice, said that gender based violence is one of the major challenges faced by the region, which needs urgent attention.
“Gender based violence needs to be addressed in the region, it’s compounded by situations where we have conflicts which make the lives of women and children more vulnerable. This is the time for all of us to understand clearly that men and women should hold each other accountable because it’s the only way to deal with regional conflicts,” he noted.
About 45.6 per cent of women in Africa experienced physical and sexual violence, compared to 35 per cent globally, according to a survey presented at the meeting.
Globally, women who experienced violence with their intimate or non-partners were twice as likely to be depressed, have alcohol related problems, and have HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, it said.
Other health problems linked to violence were unwanted pregnancies, abortion and low birth-weight babies. In addition 38 percent of women killed globally were murdered by their intimate partners.