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Violence against women is not only a human rights issue but also a matter of justice. It is about fighting it all the time, everywhere; and each of us can be an actor for change. That was the forceful message delivered by African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka when he addressed staff at the Bank on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
“Legislation already exists, but we need to go further,” said the Bank’s President, adding that it is about continuing to fight to the end, as with the civil rights movement in the United States, whose crowning achievement was to see an African-American elected to the presidency. “The authorities must play their part and strengthen the existing legal arsenal,” he added.
Kaberuka also referred to the many negative impacts of violence. Even at a purely societal level, there are multiple implications, with phenomena such as child trafficking, street children, girls not being educated and the incidence of poverty, all problems that are made worse by violence.
For her part, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, AfDB Vice-President and Special Envoy on Gender, said, “This day is not a celebration, but an opportunity to recall the sad reality of violence committed against women and girls.”
The problem of violence also raises the issue of educating both girls and boys, which is the only approach that will change attitudes. Similarly, it raises the question of solidarity that all people should show. And “there’s still a long way to go,” warned Fraser-Moleketi.
The AfDB joined the United Nations UNiTE campaign to “Orange your Neighbourhood” on November 25, 2014 to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and for 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, which will end on Human Rights Day on December 10, 2014.
The ceremony provided an opportunity to showcase the talent of Naforo-Ba, a group of female percussionists from Côte d’Ivoire, “Les Femmes battantes”, for whom “with valiant, fighting women, nothing is impossible”. Their dancing and drumming performance drew thunderous applause.
The campaign’s launch ceremony was also an opportunity to shine the spotlight on one of the AfDB’s emblematic projects, which received a prize from the US Treasury in 2013, the “Emerging from Crisis Support Project”, which the Bank ran for four years in Côte d’Ivoire, with one component focusing specifically on gender-based violence.