In celebration of International Woman's
….the fundamental universal right of women and girls to live free of violence, that in 2008 the UN Secretary General launched the UNite Say No Campaign to End Violence Against Women and Girls. African Governments and peoples subscribed overwhelmingly to the Say No Campaign….
It was also in this same spirit that African Heads of State and Government took up the clarion call to indeed Unite as a Continent to intensify efforts to end violence against women and girls in January 2010 with the inclusion of a Africa UNite component.
……a culmination of all these efforts and is important not only for
Africa but elsewhere as
violence against women and girls is a universal problem that governments and
societies the world over face. It has many facets, it has many forms and it
happens to different individuals in varying degrees. What is common though is
that it is a gross violation of human rights and has no place in any of our
homes, in any of our communities or in larger society.
Violence against women and girls is pervasive across
Africa. In the sub-Saharan
region, between 13% and 45% of women suffer assault by intimate partners during
their lifetimes. Recent studies from the region show that up to 47% of girls in
primary or secondary school report sexual abuse or harassment from male
teachers or classmates, and over 3 million girls in Africa are at risk of
female genital mutilation. Evidence abounds on the effects of conflict and how
rape has been used as a weapon of war.
It is these statistics that have to move us to action. And it is these statistics that must make an imprint on our social conscience to stand together and take action.
To help raise greater awareness of these challenges, late last year, UN Women’s Executive Director, Michelle Bachelet, announced “16 Steps to End Violence Against Women”. Included among these is an ambitious but critical global drive over the coming decade focused on advancing universal access to services for all women and girl survivors of violence. In situations of violence and oppression, women must have somewhere to turn for their safety and protection, for their access to health care, and for their access to justice.
Sadly, violence against women remains one of the most pervasive violations of human rights and yet one of the least prosecuted crimes. Impunity is still the norm, rather than the exception.
Violence against women and girls is a heavy burden for all. It has devastating costs and consequences, on the lives of those affected but also to societies and economies as a whole. Such violence translates into millions of dollars of lost wages and productivity and additional health, counseling, police and legal costs to already overstretched public budgets every year.
We must all do more – much more – to end the violence. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently put it, ‘Our challenge is to ensure that the message of ‘zero tolerance’ is heard far and wide. To do that, we must engage all society – and especially young people.”……
Ms. Rosie Tebogo Motene, a South African actress and television presenter, has said (and I quote): “Our inner strength can be compared to a candle burning bright, When that candle goes out the light is gone. Our strength and core are diminished — Abuse causes that. Never let anyone blow out your candle; Never allow an abuser to diminish you”.
To read the entire speech