MenEngage Africa (MEA), an alliance of organisations working with men and boys to promote gender equality in the Africa region, and the Rwanda Men’s Resource Centre (Rwamrec), are concerned about conflicts in the Great Lakes region and the use of sexual violence targeting women and girls in these conflicts.
The two organisations are, today, Friday 22nd April 2016, from 09h00 a.m. – 13h00 p.m., hosting a high-level meeting comprising of representatives of the government of Rwanda, led by the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Ms. Diana Gashumba, United Nations agencies, international and civil society organisations operating in the Great Lakes region and from across Africa to focus on the need for governments and civil society to work together to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in the region.
In particular, the meeting focuses on the need to fast-track engagement on the implementation of the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. The Resolution describes the process of facilitating peace-building negotiations, and calls for the meaningful inclusion of all stakeholders, including women, which involves a focus on the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
The Resolution was passed in 2000 following recognition that in past and present conflicts the world over, sexual violence is often used as a weapon of war and women are the worst affected.
During war, they often become targets of sexual violence, men and children may be killed – leaving them to pick up the pieces of rebuilding their families and communities often without support, and they are themselves the majority of casualties of war. Women make up 80% of those who have to flee their homes.
The overall objective of the meeting is to engage in a reflection and information-sharing exercise on peace and security, women and children’s rights and appropriate response mechanisms in line with national, regional and international frameworks.
We envisage that, in the short-term, this meeting will result in key partnerships and the development of strategies and mechanisms to respond to sexual and gender-based violence in emergency and conflict areas in the Great Lakes region.
We also expect that the meeting will result in solutions and recommendations on preventing conflict and violence against women as well as responding to problems faced by women in post-conflict situations in the region, generally.
MenEngage Africa and civil society partners from the region will engage as partners to achieve the following objectives during this meeting:
- Reflect on the status of implementation of international, regional and country frameworks for peace and security and women’s empowerment, and propose strategies and areas for common engagement;
- Devise response mechanisms on the current situation of women and children in conflict and emergency situations; and
- Discuss and set priority actions to be taken by MenEngage Africa, civil society organisations in partnership with governments, in response to conflict in the region.
The Great Lakes region has been home to some of Africa’s most intractable and turbulent conflicts over the last 20 years, including the Burundi civil war that lasted 12 years, the Rwanda genocide in 1994 that claimed the lives of over a million people and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s long-standing conflict.
We commit to work tirelessly with our partners within the women’s sector to ensure that all hostilities in the region cease; and to ensure that we all are engaged in a positive developmental agenda. This will require for all stakeholders to join in this effort seeking a different developmental trajectory for Africa.
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