International Day for the elimination of violence against women - Statement by Donald Kaberuka
Violence against women is violence against us all. Violence against women is not “only” a “women’s issue”: it is a priority for all men and all women who are committed to contributing to the development of their societies.
Africa knows that: its women face a terrible toll of violence. In countries affected by conflict, as many as two-thirds of women have experienced sexual or physical violence or harassment. Across the continent, violence of all forms undermines human and economic development.
The African Development Bank works in partnership with governments, civil society organisations and businesses to bring about a world which is not just rid of violence, but which ensures and then celebrates equality of opportunity and treatment for women as for men.
The AfDB is devoted to the promotion of inclusive development in Africa – for women as for men, for young as for old, for rural communities as for urban, for our most fragile states as well as our most robust. Development is quantifiable far beyond the financial bottom line, and there can be no well-being when inequality, discrimination and gender-based violence exists. Sexual violence and subordination of women diminishes their ability to protect themselves from HIV-AIDs, sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. Rape has continued to be used against women in situations of conflict on our continent, and their aftermath.
In September 2013, I appointed a Special Envoy on Gender to be an advocate for these fundamental beliefs, and to oversee the Bank’s work in strengthening women’s legal status and property rights, and promoting their economic empowerment, especially through skills training. In July, a Bank project to support victims of gender-based violence won an international development award, for setting up service centres where women could access, free of charge, social, health, legal and economic services. We continue to support the African governments which have established the institutions – often inadequately funded and staffed – to make the vision a reality.
I recall the words of the African Nobel Prizewinner Wangari Maathai, that “African women need to see what they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.” As the development voice of Africa, the African Development Bank will continue to argue that women’s equality and opportunity before the law is the shared responsibility of governments and peoples alike.