Women Leaders’ Consultation On The African Union

The United Nations Declaration of 1993 defines VAWG as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. These abuses disproportionately impact on women. The gendered nature of VAWG commends us to involve both men and women in all aspects of eliminating this scourge. These trends have worsened by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; as Violence Against Women and Girls has drastically increased.

The Kinshasa Declaration and its call to Action as well as the AU Decision have paved the way for meaningful involvement of men at the highest level in the fight against VAWG. Effective male engagement must be accountable to women. Interventions should acknowledge women’s existing contributions towards gender equality, and create opportunities for leveraging this work and for collaboration with women and women’s groups to ensure that efforts are accountable to women’s rights and empowerment, women’s organizations, and women themselves. Male involvement in VAWG programming has been seen to present challenges, including but not limited to the risks of depoliticizing gender equality work and diverting funding and capacity from women’s organizations. When male allies do not follow or engage with women-led efforts, they perpetuate gender inequality — the very problem that we aim to address.

To this end, Women Leaders are convening a pre-conference consultation, ahead of the Second Men’s Conference on Positive Masculinity themed ‘Advancing Actions and Promoting Positive Masculinity to End Violence Against Women and Girls.’ The main aim is to discuss strategies to ensure that male leaders making commitments to end VAWG and gender inequality remain accountable to women and girls in Africa.

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