CALLS for a holistic understanding of gender equality concepts and respect for human rights dominated Thursday’s gender based violence meeting at the Ministry of defense headquarters.
The two–day training workshop for senior officers of the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) was organized by UNIFEM, the United Nations agency responsible for promoting gender and women’s empowerment.
Citing Darfur where the RDF is currently part of the AU peace keeping force, the UNIFEM regional director, Dr Josephine Odera said that alarming reports continue to talk off persistent women sexual assault and humiliation.
“It is unfortunate, very unfortunate and inexcusable that the use of rape as a tool of war is on the increase rather than decline. The RDF is strategically positioned to protect women at the risk of gender–based violence in times of war and in peace,” Odera said.
She added that Rwanda’s experience in the 1994 Genocide where about 500,000 women were brutally raped puts it at a forefront to be part of a wider, more holistic approach to security.
The RDF Chief of General Staff, Gen James Kabareebe reiterated the army’s commitment towards respect for human rights values and the reduction of gender–basedviolance.
Kabareebe said that RDF considers gender–based violence a security threat, adding that it has a negative impact on the social economic development and human rights in particular.
“RDF leadership is highly conscious about the ggender–based violence and is committed to offer means to have human security totally ensured. Our doors remain open to receive anyone willing to join hands to accomplish this endeavor,” Kabareebe said.
The army chief cautioned that gender based violence is a serious social menace that needs special attention in contemporary democracy by governments, multilateral organizations and the civil society.