Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The African Network of Women Shelters Call to Action

The African Network of Women Shelters (ANWS)
Kigali Call to Action
We, the members of the African Network of Women Shelters (ANWS) Steering Committee and partners 
from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya,  Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zimbabwe;

Recognizing the outcomes of 1stand 2ndConferences of the Global Network of Women Shelters (GNWS) 
held in Edmonton-Canada in September 2008 and Washington DC–USA in February 2012;
Observing that violence against women (VAW) remains one of the major challenges in Africa and 

We welcome  the 57thSession of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and States’ 
consideration to address the challenge under the theme  “Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of 
Violence Against Women and Girls”;We also affirm the Statement of the NGO Committee on the Status of Women/Africa at the forthcoming 57thSession of the Commission on the Status of Women;

We note the following:
Violence against women is a major obstacle to women attaining equality, development and peace, and 
prevents women from enjoying their human rights and fundamental freedoms and a life of dignity free 
from oppression. Many women want to escape the violence and find refuge and safety because their 
homes or communities are unsafe. But the vast majority cannot find refuge and safety. They may seek 
safety and peace by going to safe spaces, such as shelters, refuges, women’s centers, or transition 
homes, to seek peace and safety. In these spaces, women and their children who have had violence 
perpetrated upon them could find refuge, compassion, resources, and assistance. 
Women’s centers and safe spaces, where they exist in Africa, provide life saving services to  women 
fleeing violence, often working in dangerous places with minimal support, resources and protection. 
Cultural barriers often inhibit these centers from operating openly and this means that victims often 
face a lifetime of discrimination, stigmatization, poverty, and increased risk of further victimization.
As set out in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action in 1993, Member States asserted that 
“gender-based violence and all forms of sexual harassment and exploitation…are incompatible with the
dignity and worth of the human person, and must be eliminated.”  Since then, States have reaffirmed 
their commitment to ending violence against women through the adoption of the Declaration on the 
Elimination of Violence against Women (CEDAW). Others include the Beijing Platform for Action, the 
agreed conclusions of the 42ndand 51st sessions of the CSW, and UN Security Council resolutions 1325, 

1820, 1888, 1889, and 1960, and UN Security Council Resolutions 1261, 1379 and 1612 on children in armed conflict.
In Africa, States have committed to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on 
the Rights of Women in Africa, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the Great 
Lakes Region Protocol on the Suppression and Prevention of Sexual Violence Against Women and 
Despite these commitments, violence against women and children persists as a widespread and 
pervasive human rights violation.  States have clear and concrete obligations under their constitutions 
and international commitments they have signed and ratified to prevent such violence, prosecute and 
punish perpetrators, and provide redress and relief to victims and survivors of violence. In addition 
states that have not ratified also have a moral obligation to sign and ratify all treaties and protocols 
geared towards ending violence against women and girls.
We emphasize the lack and/or inadequate provision of women’s centers and safe spaces in States across 
Africa. The African Network of Women Shelters therefore calls on African governments to:
 enact and implement policies and legislation to establish and support shelters and safe spaces 
for women and girls in Africa;
 strengthen political will and invest and allocate funds for survivors of violence to guarantee 
service provision and access safe spaces and refuges. We note the importance of women driven 
shelters and safe spaces in women survivors’ confidence building, and thus the need for their 
support with appropriate infrastructure to offer holistic interventions with prevention on GBV 
and women empowerment programs.
 We call on governments to maintain accountability and transparency in State reconstruction by 
including women's needs and priorities, women's human rights including access to justice, and 
representation and participation in peace processes.
 We call on governments and civil society to provide confidential and secure domestic and sexual 
violence interventions and provision of specialist services that meet the needs of a diversity of 
women, including the disabled, elderly and refugees, who are currently underserved by existing 
 We call on governments, civil society and aid agencies to: 
o strengthen policies and decrees and their facilitation as related to VAW and genderbased violence,
o ensure the policies are fundamental in initiating and sustaining women’s centres and safe spaces, 
o are holistic, integrated and include community level awareness raising programmes done in a rights-based, gender and culturally sensitive manner, and
o integrate gender-based violence in school curricula as a means of primary prevention.
 We encourage Governments to put in place mechanisms to coordinate and harmonize service 
provision by various Government departments and civil society organizations in health, education, economic development and other social services. This should include monitoring and 
 We urge governments, civil society and aid agencies to focus on strengthening and supporting 
women-to-women shelter exchange learning, documentation, collection and  management of 
data which is essential for providing improved holistic responses.
Done in Kigali on this 5th day of December 2012.

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