Press release: Hear Us Out: Stand in solidarity with activists and take action to end violence against women and girls in East and Southern Africa

The UN Women Regional Office for East and Southern Africa provides a platform for advocates to connect and call out actions to mark the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

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Nairobi – We must ensure that essential services are available, financed and accessible to women of all ages. We need to support investments in preventing violence before it begins and keeping the work focused on the realities of diverse women and girls, and including through their active participation in decision-making and through mobilization of men in support of positive masculinities. These were among the key messages underscored through powerful stories and experiences shared at the regional commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women organized by UN Women Regional Office for East and Southern Africa today.

As the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence kicked off today, participants of the Virtual High-Level Dialogue: Accelerating Progress and Accountability for Ending GBV in East and Southern Africa shared and exchanged efforts and approaches toward ending violence against women in the region and transforming social norms that perpetuate gender-based violence.

In Africa, domestic violence is the most prevalent form of violence across the continent, with women and girls in specific countries also facing high levels of child marriage and female genital mutilation, as well various forms of sexual violence. At least one in three young women in Africa are married before they turn 18. About 125 million girls and women have been subjected to FGM. Evidence shows that these practices are caused by deep rooted inequality between men and women, patriarchal beliefs and harmful social norms, poverty, lack of education and awareness on the harmful consequences of violence.

This year marks 30 years of the annual 16 Days of Activism on Gender-Based Violence (GBV), from 25 November to 10 December. Since the Campaign’s launch in 1991 by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, there has been significant attention to raising the visibility of the various forms of violence faced by women and girls in their diverse identities and throughout the course of their lives. Numerous commitments from international to local levels now exist, and in the past decade alone, programmatic and policy investments have grown in support of these commitments. However, data on the prevalence of violence against women, particularly intimate partner violence, shows that we are not making progress at the same pace of commitments, and there has been a growing recognition of the shadow pandemic of violence against women and girls in both development and humanitarian contexts. In 2021, an unprecedented level of commitment was made during the Generation Equality Forums in Mexico City and Paris, toward accelerating efforts to end gender-based violence, and gender equality more broadly.

Considering the momentum of the GBV Action Coalition in the East and Southern Africa Region, with the leadership of the Government of Kenya, the Yes! Trust Zimbabwe, among other leaders and advocates on EVAW, UN Women East and Southern Africa Region convened leaders and partners across the region to commemorate the 16 Days Campaign through a High-Level Dialogue: Accelerating Progress and Accountability for Ending GBV in East and Southern Africa.

In his remarks, Dr. Maxime Houinato, Regional Director for UN Women Regional Office for East and Southern Africa said: “Despite the slow progress we have seen and the alarming statistics of women and girls who continue to experience violence through all stages of life, UN Women is hopeful that together, if we to put the principles of intersectionality, feminist leadership and transformation into our practice, we can make a shift in our ways of working and better harness the wealth of expertise that exists among the diverse partners working to end all forms of gender-based violence in the region.”

“As part of its Generation Equality commitments, the Government of Kenya, the co-leader of Action Coalition on Gender-Based Violence has launched ‘Policare’, which is a one-stop shop at the police station where sexual violence survivors can report their case, find a doctor to take samples, and get necessary counseling and legal support and it is supported by a civil society organization,” noted Dr. Linah Jebii Kilimo, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of Public Service and Gender, Kenya.

The Virtual High-Level Dialogue brought together a prominent set of speakers representing government, international development partners, traditional leaders, diverse civil society organizations and youth activists. It also provided an opportunity for artists and performers to express their concerns and calls to action through creative performances, including poetry by Hellen Bulugu (Tanzania), and musical performances by Muhonja Mujega (Kenya) addressing intimate partner violence and from Samuel Semuddu (Uganda) on ending sexual harassment.

 “It takes a village to raise a child, so I urge families and communities to be at the forefront and ask questions, pay attention to your daughters’ needs and aspirations”, said Wamweni Samundengu, youth and women’s rights activist from Zambia in her powerful story of change.

The event participants shared their experiences and insights on lessons learned in working to end gender-based violence, and visions for what is possible and ways for creating ‘a new normal’ where violence is never acceptable, never excusable, and should never be kept silent.

Today’s event was attended by nearly 100 representatives of civil society organizations government officials, UN agencies and the wider diplomatic community, and media from across East and Southern Africa.

Media contact:

Aijamal Duishebaeva
UN Women East and Southern Africa Regional Office
Phone: +254 759 598882
Email: [ Click to reveal ]