Women’s empowerment key to ending violence

UNDER the banner “Peace begins at home: End violence, empower women” Gender Links is calling for a radical shift in approaches to ending violence during the Sixteen Days of Activism from November 25 to December 10.
Gender Links chief executive officer Colleen Lowe-Morna said gender violence is a symptom of a much deeper dissatisfaction and the gender inequality that pervades every aspect of life.
“We cannot talk about ending violence without talking about women’s political, economic and social empowerment. For many years we listened to survivors of gender violence tell their stories, what we call the “I” stories.
“We realised that in almost every instance women go back into abusive relationships because they have no options. Economic empowerment and independence does not necessarily mean an end to violence but it is a key pre-condition,” Ms Lowe-Morna said.
And according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), incidences of violence against women in some African countries may be up to five times higher than those of some developed economies.
In a statement, UNECA estimates that reported acts of violence cost between 1 percent and 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the monthly cost of violence against women is 20 times that of average medical expenditure for a household.
Speaking at the African Beijing Plus Twenty Review on November 19, 2014 in Addis Ababa, UNECA executive secretary Carlos Lopes noted that despite growth of over 5 percent over the last decade, Africa has not been capable of propelling strong transformation of its economic realities.
“Without jobs, inclusion, and social distribution the good news is limited. We cannot build dynamic African countries if women and girls, who form the majority of the population, remain marginalised or excluded,” Dr Lopes said.
Dr Lopes announced a Continent-Wide Initiative for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, covering economic empowerment; women’s human rights and the social sector.
The review of the Fourth World Conference on Women that took place in Beijing in 1995, will next year coincide with the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. Goal five concerns gender equality.
It has a strong emphasis on ending violence in the broader context of women’s political, social and economic empowerment.

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