Ghana, others join forces to fight gender based violence

Nana Oye Lithur - Gender Minister
Nana Oye Lithur – Gender Minister

Six African Countries has pledged their commitment to collaborate with civil society, share best practices and use governmental power to fight gender-based violence.

Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and the Gambia stated this during side attraction organized at the on-going 57 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York.

Most of the six countries are already working on draft gender bill, which they had agreed to explore all possibilities to ensure the passage into law to ensure  best international practices in the contest of the African dynamics.

The African countries also used the occasion to discuss violence against women, the strategic plan for implementation of UN Resolution 1325 of the Security Council, and also strategized on action on preventing and eliminating of violence against women and girls.

Nana Oye Lithur, Ghana’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection in an intervention, highlighted the commonalities and forms of gender based violence across the African region, harmful traditional practices, widowhood rites, female genital mutilation, child abuse and forced marriage.

The Ghanaian Minister also  employed African governments to immediately initiate security measures to deal with trafficking of women and girls across the region.

“We need stronger collaboration and coordination amongst the various African Ministers to address these common forms of violence that exist in our region,” Nana Oye Lithur noted.

She  urged Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)  to sustain its support for  sub regional countries to address fistula, skills training for girls and other initiatives.

The other countries were represented by ECOWAS  Commissioner for Development and Gender, Dr Adrienne diop, Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Zainab Maina and Mrs Ajaratou Isatou Njie-Saidy, Vice President of Gambia.

The rest are Ms Anne Desiree Ouloto, Minister of Solidarity,Family Women and Children, Ivory Coast, Mrs Julia Duncan – Cassell,Minister of Social Affairs and Advancement of Women and Children, Liberia,and Mrs. Lulama Xingwana, of South Africa

Other side attractions that  Ghana participated in included high level meeting of ECOWAS Minister of Women Affairs, ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender.

The ECOWAS meetings discussed a sub-regional report on the gender situation in West Africa for 2012, and a new protocol that ECOWAS was  drafting on equality of rights of  men and women for sustainable development.

Meanwhile the South African Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Ms Lulu Xingwana, with fraternal support from Ghana’s Minister for Women, Children and Social Protection has projected three gender sensitive booklets, which aimed at mobilizing support to fight  gender based violence.

The booklets captured under the broad theme: “Coordination for actions against Gender Based Violence,” are “Justice for Women,” “Women, Children and People with Disabilities,” and the “Economic Development for Women.”

Ms Xingwana noted that in spite of reported cases of  about  65,000 sexual offences in 2011 and 2012, and about 35,000 reported cases between September and December 2010, South Africa has adopted progressive laws to address the loop holes in the criminal justices system.

She noted that violence against women has a detrimental effect on the economy, and there was  the urgent need for collaboration with stakeholders to deal with the problem.

The South African Minister said her country was  ready to share with sister African countries measures adopted to deal with the problem in that country.

In a related development, Mrs Michelle Bachelet, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, said the world can no longer afford the costs of violence against women and girls, the social and economic cost and the cost in deep human pain and suffering.

“It is time for action when up to 70 per cent of women in some countries face physical and /or sexual violence in their lifetime.

“When intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States.

“When one in three girls in developing countries is likely to be married as a child bride; when some 140 million girls and women have suffered female genital mutilation; when millions of women and girls are trafficked in modern-day slavery.

“When women’s bodies are a battleground, and rape is used as a tactic of war: it is time for action,” she stated, stressing that the 57th session of the UN Commission provides an opportunity to exercise responsibility to prevent and end violence against girls and women.

Source: GNA

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