Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - An international gathering of anti-violence activists Friday called on governments to implement the African Union (AU) protocol that bans harmful traditional practices that limit women from enjoying their full rights.
The V-Day Africa Summit, which gathered 48 women from 17 African countries, concluded in Nairobi, with a declaration calling on all governments to ensure respect for women, especially those caught up in dangerous conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Libya, Somalia and Sudan.
The Summit signed up to a plan to launch the One Billion Rising Campaign, a global action inviting women and men to strike, rise and dance on 14 February, 2013.
The Summit adopted a declaration rejecting all forms of gender-based abuses and specifically the use of rape as a weapon of war.
It also affirmed its commitment to fight all forms of abuses, including rape, domestic violence, honour killings, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child and forced marriages, incest and teen-dating abuses, according to a statement made available to PANA.
"Women perish because of lack of knowledge about their rights. I have taken people to court for performing FGM and won,” said V-Day Kenya Director Agnes Pareyio, a former UN Personality of the Year Laureate, who has led a tireless fight against FGM amongst the Maasai community.
Christine Schuler Deschryver, V-Day DRC Director, said: “For the African women who attended, the V-Day Africa Summit was 'our' summit. It was a place to open our hearts, to tell our stories and break the shame, and move our work forward in a unified, radical way.”
The AU has endorsed several protocols, including the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, which seeks to end violence against women, their exclusion from politics and decision-making and high illiteracy levels due to limited access to education amongst girls.
Delegates from Burundi, DRC, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe, attended the 27-31 August meeting.
They resolved to form a solidarity network of women activists to intensify its campaign against violence and vile treatment of women, especially those in the conflict zones.
Participants also agreed to launch a continental campaign to lobby all governments to take action against the “femicide” in the DRC, where women are often roundly abused sexually in a systematic attack that targets them for their weakness.
“Violence against women takes place around the vagina. We gathered here to create a powerful force against these continuing abuses and ensure that issues around sex are not treated as taboo subjects because that way, we are able to become part of the solution to the problem,” said Mumbi Kaigwa, the Convener of the V-Day Africa Summit.
Through her work of art, Kaigwa, a prominent actor, writer and playwright known best for her Vagina Monologues productions, has raised funds to build safe houses for girls escaping FGM.
Eve Ensler, the internationally renowned playwright of The Vagina Monologues and Founder of V-Day, a worldwide movement against gender violence, said: “For the last 15 years, I have witnessed the worst atrocities and violence perpetrated against women and girls throughout Africa and the entire world. No matter what culture, what religion, the vagina is still not honoured, cherished and protected... that is why we are rising.”
-0- PANA AO/VAO 31Aug2012