Women in Botswana are set to join the chorus by their fellow compatriots from a broad spectrum of the Globe starting today (Wednesday) to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the United Nations formal recognition of 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
The commemoration, referred to as 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence, was reportedly inspired by an incident in 1991 when a small group of women came up with an idea of an international campaign designating the dates 25 November, International Day against Violence against Women with 10 December as International Human Rights Day.
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Khin-Sandi Lwin, said, “The message is clear: We have a responsibility to end gender-based violence together as Women, girls, men, boys and individuals of all generations, religions, occupations and political beliefs, regardless of our socio-economic backgrounds.”
It is on that basis, according to Lwin, that 10 years later, the UN formally recognized the 16 days of activism as international Days worth commemorating, and still by the same token, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon decided to launch his campaign, ‘Unite to End Violence Against Women, 2008-2015’.
The overall objective was to raise public awareness and increase political will as well as resources for preventing and responding to all forms of violence against women and girls across the globe.
Closer to home, “Four years ago, the African Union (AU) adopted the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa with a clear commitment to “initiate, launch and engage within two years sustained public campaign against gender based violence…,” posited Lwin, adding that the import of all these initiatives has been greater awareness and general acceptance of the issue as a human rights violation in many parts of the world.
The UN Resident Coordinator, lamented that, in spite of this, the scale of the problem continues to climb and has reached epidemic proportions at a global level.
On account of credible research, it has been established by the UN that one in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. In addition, Women and girls surviving violence still have no or little access to justice or services and yet strikingly “work on prevention of violence against women and girls has barely started”, according to Lwin.
To give credence to the UN perspective, Keabonye Ntsabane, of Gender Links, representing the Civil Society dimension, made reference to statistics from the Botswana Police Services (BPS) indicating that at least 50 women have been murdered by men in the period between January2009 -October 2009.
“If this were to be a measure enough to determine the prospects of succeeding in the country’s bid to achieve gender equality, then certainly that remains a pipe dream,” Ntsabane said.
However, Mabuse Pule, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs, urged participants to appreciate that, “This calls for a collective engagement of all stakeholders to ‘Commit, Act and Demand a drastic shift of paradigms’,” adding that “together we can end violence”.