SADC joins the rest of the world in commemorating the Sixteen (16) Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign. The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence is an international campaign to galvanize global action and strengthen advocacy to end violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from the 25th of November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10th of December, Human Rights Day.
SADC considers gender based violence (GBV) as a critical area of concern as outlined in the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-202), and the Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. These strategic documents affirm principles of women empowerment and gender equality, and recognize the prevention and reduction of GBV as a catalyst for attaining an environment conducive for serene peace and security. In addition, the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development identifies GBV as an area of concern and proposes several approaches to addressing this epidemic. As a social ill, GBV continues to be a threat to human security, peace and development in the SADC region, nationally and globally. In this regard, we cannot be silent and inactive on GBV as a region; silence and stigma have allowed violence against women to escalate to pandemic proportions.
In realizing that violence against women and girls continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights, SADC developed overarching documents viz. Regional GBV Strategy 2018-2030 and its Framework of Action and the SADC Regional Strategy on Women, Peace and Security 2018 – 2022, in effort to putting an end to violence against women and girls. While SADC’s Regional Strategy on Women, Peace and Security amongst others, gives due attention to the need to include women in national security sector institutions and processes and the need to combat any human rights violations of women and children with emphasis on combatting sexual GBV, the SADC Regional Gender Based Violence Strategy was developed to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of the Revised SADC Protocol on Gender and Development with a specific focus on Articles addressing GBV. SADC, in its holistic approach to combating maladies besetting our society, also developed the 10 Year Strategic Plan of Action on Combating Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (2009 – 2019), which has since been revised. All these are a reflection of the SADC Member States’ commitment to addressing GBV.
This year, global commemorations are under the theme “Orange the World: #HearMeToo”.This calls for all of us to speak out and act against GBV, including in our own private and personal spaces. The SADC Secretariat joins the global voice to break the silence on GBV and to promote zero tolerance of GBV and impunity. In the last decade, we have seen the issue of GBV moving from the shadows to the fore-ground of commitments and actions to attain sustainable development. Global actions like the 16 Days Campaign are some of the initiatives that continue to provide an opportunity to mobilise global, regional and national actions against GBV.
As women and girls everywhere are experiencing extensive abuse, it is time that their stories are brought to light. Member States are therefore encouraged to intensify prevention of GBV and strengthen related service delivery. Member States are also reminded to create platforms for giving voice to the voiceless, including to allow for safe reporting, provision of shelters and places of safety for victims and survivors of GBV.