The President of Senegal, and Chairperson of the African Union, H.E Macky Sall on Thursday 10 November 2022, said, African countries must raise their voices and speak against harassment, rape and all undesired advancement on women and girls if the continent should be seen as an example in promoting gender equality, protection of the right of women and girls and in ending gender-based violence against them.
President Macky Sall spoke at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Center, in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, at the second Conference on Positive Masculinity in Leadership to End Violence against Women and Girls, organised by the African Union (AU) in partnership with the Government of Senegal with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other partners.
Youth and Women’s consultations were held on 8 and 9 November respectively, in the build up to the main conference held on the theme: “Accelerating actions and Promoting Positive Masculinity to End Violence against Women and Girls.”
Addressing over 1,000 in-person participants from across Africa, President Macky Sall said, tackling violence against women and girls should begin in the families, and called for on the continent to make positive masculinity a state of mind. Africans should raise their voices and say enough to all forms of gender based violence against women and girls, and address issues of silence, all in line with the AU Agenda 2063, he said. “This is not just about laws; it is about mindset if we want Africa to be an example to other continents.”
With the involvement of traditional and religious leaders, and civil society, president Sall expressed optimism of a change in norms and was therefore, “assured of the future of positive masculinity in the continent.”
Also speaking at the event via video was President of South Africa, H.E Cyril Ramaphosa. He called for mechanism for African Union funds on ending violence against women and girls and men, adding that men should take ownership of positive values to address the issue of violence against women and girls.
Other speakers included Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former president of Liberia, Moussa Faki Mahamat of the AU Commission, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim former President of Mauritius and Catherine Samba-Panza, former Interim President of the Central African Republic.
Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf referred to women and girls as the engine of Africa’s development and therefore, called on the world to end impunity against them. “Violence against women and girls must not be accepted and we must commit to ensure women achieve their goals” the Madam Sirleaf said.
The fight against discrimination and violence is one of those causes that leave no room for neutrality, as they impose only one choice: commitment and action. It is in this context, that the Inaugural African Union Men’s Conference was held on Positive Masculinity in Leadership to End Violence Against Women and Girls on November 25, 2021 in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the girls.
The 2021 DRC Conference saw the adoption of the Kinshasa Declaration and Call for Action on Positive Masculinity, later adopted as a decision of the AU Assembly at the AU Heads of State Summit in February 2022 enjoining AU Heads of State to report annually on measures taken and progress made to end violence against women and girls in Africa.
The 2022 conference took stock of progress made in the implementation of the 2021 Kinshasa Declaration. Key recommendations by civil society groups, traditional and religious leaders, youth participants and the private sector made on the advancement of the right of women and girls: included the need to allocate budgetary support to programmes and setting up a committee to follow-up on the last commitments and recommendations of the Kinshasa Declaration, among others.