Commitment of the Council of Traditional Leaders of Africa (COTLA) towards the elimination of violence against women and girls.
It is a reality that our region carries the highest prevalence of child marriage and female genital mutilation in the world, impacting millions of our girls. These harmful traditional practices have devastating impact including loss of life, risk of disease such as fistula, loss of education and life opportunities, trauma and other psycho-social impacts resulting in deepening poverty and perpetuating a cycle of abuse. This calls on us as traditional and religious leaders to urgently assume our role as protectors of our children. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the prevalence of gender-based violence in our countries and communities.
Being silent is no longer an option, as it makes us complicit to these crimes and perpetuates the assumptions that child marriage and female genital mutilation are sanctioned by culture or religion. We, publicly condemn all cultural and traditional practices that are harmful to women and girls and repugnant to our traditional values and to notions of natural law and justice. We further note that eliminating child marriage and FGM are essential steps to realizing gender equality and several of the Sustainable Development Goals including targets on health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, decent work, and economic growth.
It is therefore on this premise that we the leadership and members of the Council of Traditional Leaders of Africa (COTLA) commit to ideals and efforts of Generation Equality Forum and undertake steps towards the elimination of violence against women and girls. We commit to prevent and eliminate harmful traditional practices against women and girls in communities across Africa. As COTLA we commit to join hands in supporting government effort and other partners such as joint EU- UN Spotlight Initiative towards ending child marriage and FGM. COTLA will mobilize traditional institutions to develop and implement community-based approaches aimed at addressing the social dynamics underpinning the continuation of child marriage and FGM and other harmful practices.