The United Nations Women has said the key to achieving gender equality is investing in and empowering women’s rights organisations.
Delivering a speech at the regional consultation with women’s rights organisations organised under the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, the Country Representative of UNWomen, Beatrice Eyong, lamented that significant changes have not been made since the commencement of 16 Days of Activism 20 years ago.
On gender equality, she said: “Addressing and eradicating it requires more than just reacting to violence when it happens; it mandates proactive and innovative solutions. A key to these solutions lies in investing in and empowering women’s rights organisations. You possess the knowledge, tools, and determination to reshape societies to be safer, more inclusive, and just.”
She added: “In the first 20 years since the first edition of the 16 days campaign, we witnessed some historic results to end violence against women and girls. Today, while we must pause to appreciate this progress, we must recall that we have neither significantly changed the composition of peace tables nor the impunity enjoyed by those who commit atrocities against women and girls.
“In fact, the 16 days campaign of activism to end violence against women should not only be a celebration but a wake-up call in the context of gender equality pushbacks around the world, particularly in West and Central Africa.”
She also lamented: “The pushback on gender equality is well-coordinated, well-structured, and well-orchestrated. It deliberately seeks to undermine access to the human rights system for women and girls. The effects of ignoring our own commitments to end violence against women would be long-lasting and inter-generational for women, immediate and drastic for world peace and particularly for the West Africa region.”
She recalled that research has shown that the presence of a strong and autonomous feminist movement is the most critical factor in driving change in ending violence against women and girls in policy making and in transforming social norms and power relations.
She revealed: “Recognising the potential of women’s rights organisation, European Union and UN Women have partnered to develop a new initiative called A.C.T. to end violence against women, which focused on strengthening global and regional advocacy, coalition building, and transformative feminist action to end violence against women.”
On her part, the European Union focal person, Mrs Eseme Stuart, said the ACT programme is a new joint commitment between the European Commission and UN Women.
She explained: “As most of you know, this Action Coalition is a multi-stakeholder partnership that mobilises governments, civil society, international organisations, and the private sector in the fight against gender-based violence.
“Our commitment to the ACT programme builds on the experience of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, which many of you may be familiar with.”