Regional countries should follow Rwanda’s strategy to combat Gender Based Violence (GBV), which has also helped accelerate the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
This was said yesterday by the regional director of UN-Women, Diana Ofwona, at the opening of a two-day international conference on the prevention of violence against women and girls.
“There are important lessons to learn from Rwanda’s experience and the importance of approaching GBV in a holistic manner. We congratulate Rwanda for its exemplary role in fighting violence against women,” Ofwona said.
She observed that the role played by Rwandan security organs in fighting GBV, both at home and on peace keeping missions, is an inspiration for other countries.
Rwanda has the highest number of women peacekeepers worldwide.
The conference, which brings together participants from 13 countries from the region, serves as a platform for sharing experiences and to review the implementation of the Kigali Declaration, which was adopted last year.
The declaration compels signatory states to lay strategies to combat GBV and harmonize and standardize legal frameworks pertaining to violence against women and girls.
They also agreed to recruit and promote more women officers at all echelons of the security organs, enhance collaboration, information sharing and foster partnerships among all stakeholders at national and regional level for more effective targeting, prevention, provision of services and promotion of efficient and effective justice.
The declaration is in the framework of the UN resolution 1325 which aims at protecting women and girls during and after armed conflicts, and to fully involve females in conflict prevention, management and resolution, peace building and reconciliation.
“The UN Family in Rwanda is proud to be a partner in the success story of Rwanda in the elimination of GBV and we hope to scale up this partnership in the coming years,” Ofwona said.
Rwanda is among the few countries with a steering committee to implement the UN resolution, spearheaded by the National Police and Rwanda Defence Forces.
To implement the resolution, the police, military and the Rwanda Correctional Service established gender desks, with the police decentralizing it at all police stations across the country.
Establishing ISANGE One-Stop Centre, which provides free medical services to victims of GBV and initiatives in peacekeeping operations, are other measures which were undertaken to combat the crime.
“FDRL continues to brutally target women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo, using rape as a weapon. This is an issue that deserves serious attention,” Lt Gen. Charles Kayonga, the Chief of Defence Staff, observed.
FDLR is made up of remnants of Interahamwe and Ex-FAR, who also used rape and other forms of GBV as a weapon of war during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Signatories to the Kigali Declaration include Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon and Ghana.
Others are Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania.