Feature:16 Days of Activism for a GBV free Rwanda

The global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against gender violence is “From Peace in the home to peace in the world: Let’s challenge militarism and end violence against women”.However, Rwanda’s theme was modified, “From Peace in the home to peace in the world: Act together in the prevention and fight against Gender Based Violence”.
16 Days of Activism aimed at advocacy and sensitization on GBV. The New Times / File.
16 Days of Activism aimed at advocacy and sensitization on GBV. The New Times / File.

The global theme for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against gender violence is “From Peace in the home to peace in the world: Let’s challenge militarism and end violence against women”.

However, Rwanda’s theme was modified, “From Peace in the home to peace in the world: Act together in the prevention and fight against Gender Based Violence”.

The 16 Days of Activism started on November 25, 2011 with a march from the Kacyiru Roundabout to Amahoro National Stadium. A women football match between those in leadership positions and civil society was the peak of the day.

Rwanda established various institutions to promote people’s welfare by fighting against gender based violence (GBV). Institutions such as the National Women Council (NWC), plays a major role since women are the most affected.they organize the 16 Days of Activism in the country.

Francesca Tengera, NWC President, explains the purpose of the campaign.

“The 16 Days of Activism are aimed at mobilizing, advocating and the sensitizing people on the dangers of gender based violence such as trauma and family wreckage,” Tengera said.

She further said that the 16 Days of Activism involves everyone and not only women.

“There are various activities in several districts from the grassroots to inform Rwandans about gender based violence and the stigma associated with the violence. This allows people to report to different institutions if they are abused,” Tengera explains.

The NWC is a formal organization that links women from the province to the cell level.

The Gender Monitoring Office, a public institution that aims at prioritizing programs related to gender was established by the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda with the main mission to ensure gender accountability and sustainability in all public, private and civil society institutions.

According to Oda Gasinzigwa, Chief Gender Monitoring Officer, GBV is something that needs to be addressed regularly.

“We want a GBV free Rwanda and to attain this, different strategies need to be revived leading to zero tolerance to violence,” Gasinzigwa expresses.

Her office is the gender machinery that carries out studies and provides the statistics of GBV based on indicators, assessments and the road map of victims. 

“Information like this is used as a tool during campaigns such as these, to addresses the GBV issue in Rwanda,” Gasinzigwa explains.

According to UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), the escalation of conflict typically coincides with an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in both the public and private spheres, targeting mainly women and girls, but also affecting men and boys. These crimes can have devastating, long-term effects in the lives of victims, their families and communities.

Therefore UNIFEM Rwanda, partners with the Rwanda Defence Forces to train several thousand military officers to understand, prevent and respond to SGBV;

Any victim of GBV in Rwanda can report at the GBV desk that was established at all police stations. Different toll-free phone numbers are in place to report GBV and they include; 3512 for Police, while 3945 is for the Army and 3935 for the Justice sphere.

According to Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre’s (RWAMREC) rationale document, the best solution to GBV alleviation is when Rwandan women and men come to a round table and share their thoughts in a free and harmonious approach.

Poverty reduction strategy is one of the RWAMREC’s priorities. The reports states that, ‘through gender empowerment with life skills that will enable Rwandan women to navigate through all the hardships imposed by poverty as well as those from power relation that increases the rate of gender-based violence.’

With the above priorities, Rwanda can have a GBV free country.

Doreen.umutesi@newtimes.co.rw

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