The Executive Secretary of the National Women Council, Christine Tuyisenge, has urged activists from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to integrate Gender Based Violence (GBV) in their activities.
She made the call on Friday while officiating at a three-day training workshop organised by the Regional Alliance for Sustainable Development (RASD).
With support from the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS), the workshop aimed at strengthening the capacity of CSOs in engaging men and women to be aware of the unfortunate role of GBV in causing new HIV infections.
“Despite the political will on the part of the Rwandan government to fight GBV, there are still gaps that need to be filled. One effective way through which this can be achieved is to ensure that development partners, especially CSOs, come on board given their wide range of coverage during implementation of their programmes,” Tuyisenge noted.
She commended the move to build capacities for CSOs to engage men and boys in the fight against GBV, explaining that it will address some of the key issues that have contributed to the rise of HIV prevalence among girls and women.
Current surveys have indicated that women in the 20-24 age group are five times more infected by HIV than men in the same age group. HIV infection rate among the 15-49 age group stands at 3.0 percent, with a 3.7 percent rate among women and 2.2 percent in men.
Researchers have indicated that sexual violence is one form of GBV that increases the risk for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or diseases.
“Yes, there are some men victims of GBV, but studies have indicated that more women are victims as a result of their husbands. Involving men will significantly reduce GBV cases,” Tuyisenge said.
The UNAIDS Country Representative, Dr. Sibongile Dludlu, called for more coordinated efforts among various actors to make sure that a more effective control of HIV infections is initiated.
“Rwanda’s national HIV response strategy recognises gender disparity and GBV as two major contributing factors to women and girls’ vulnerability to higher risk of HIV infection. Among most important strategies; we need to use evidence in programming. The alignment of whatever each of the partner is doing to national targets is also essential if we are to control the AIDS epidemic,” she said.
Dr. Eugene Mutimura, the head of RASD, said that the workshop helped actors from more than 50 CSOs as well as other private and public institutions to share new developments in the implementation of the national policy on Gender Promotion and Gender Based Violence Prevention.