Hundreds of delegates from over ten African countries, this week, descended on Kigali to attend a two-day international conference on the fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The meeting ended last evening with the release of ‘Kigali Declaration’ in which participating countries renewed their commitment to combat violence against women.
As showcased at the meeting, significant strides have been taken to address this problem, but much more needs to be done to make a real impact on the ground. The war against GBV cannot be won overnight. Neither can it be won by a lone player. It will take sustained and more concerted efforts, involving as many stakeholders, to decisively tackle crimes against women, whether physical, mental or reproductive in nature.
Whereas some of these crimes have been committed in broad day light, others continue to be meted out on victims in highly discreet ways. Some victims have managed to break the silence and have come out to report such abuses, but many women continue to suffer silently at the hands of their husbands or male partners.
There’s need, therefore, to directly involve families, through grassroots initiatives, as well as local administrative structures in the fight against GBV.
Strategies should also include sensitizing school children on the dangers of violence against women as a way of nurturing a generation that upholds the dignity and rights of our mothers, wives, daughters and sisters.
Governments should also treat GBV cases as a top a priority and ensure that justice is served expeditiously. Names of convicts should be made public and displayed on lists of shame; the younger generation should know that such a crime attracts not only heavy punishment but also public disgrace.
The Kigali conference should serve as a springboard to correct our past failures.