Today, President Paul Kagame launched the Command Post Exercise dubbed “Africa UNiTE”, a continent wide campaign to end violence against women and girls. He did this at National Police Headquarters in front of 172 participants from 33 African countries who are in Rwanda for the exercise.
Speaking on the importance of ending impunity, President Kagame said that every sector has its role to play in the fight to eradicate gender based violence. “I am happy to see that Africa’s security organs are at frontline of the battle against gender based violence because it is unacceptable that one in every three women around world has been beaten, sexually assaulted or abused. The ramifications of this kind of violence go beyond the individual concerned and therefore, issues of handling violence against women and girls should be an integral part of training of security and law enforcement.”
Clotilde Mbaranga Gasarabwe, Assistant UN Secretary General for Safety and Security, delivered a message from the UN Secretary General to President Kagame, saying that the United Nations appreciates the great strides made in fighting gender based violence and advancing gender equality in Rwanda. In addition, ASG Gasarabwe mentioned that the UN will launch at the end of the month courses related to violence against men and boys. “It is taboo, but it is important that we must deal with it.”
Leading the fight in Africa
In response to a call for action by the UN Secretary General in 2008, Rwanda’s security organs organised in 2010, a conference on the role of security in ending violence against women and girls. This led to a 14 point Kigali International Conference Declaration (KICD) as well as the establishment of a secretariat to coordinate and monitor implementation of the Declaration. A conference held in Burundi in 2012 named Rwanda as the permanent host of the KICD Secretariat.
The exercise, which began on July 8, comes after the visit of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in May this year. During his visit, the Secretariat was renamed the “Africa’s Security Organs Centre for the Coordination of Action to end Violence against Women and Girls.”
The exercise, an important step in exploring ways to end violence against women and girls, will have participants trained in gender sensitive mechanisms in law enforcement, work on the development of Standard Operation Practices (SOPs) to end gender based violence and share best practices.
Rwanda’s homegrown initiatives
President Kagame discussing Rwanda’s commitment to ending gender based violence and giving women and girls their place in Rwanda’s development, highlighted the ‘One Stop Centre’ concept which gathers all the necessary services victims might need in one place. There is also a gender desk at the Ministry of Defence and the National Police HQ.
Given these and many other initiatives, “Rwanda remains committed to the cause,” President Kagame concluded.