There are issues we should all be ashamed of. Think of your mother, sister, daughter being harassed by someone in the workplace, school, public space, public transport, or simply in the street. Unfortunately, this happens time and again on our continent, and the horrific statistics of women that lose their lives after being beaten by their husbands; women who are badly wounded following a dispute with parents or relatives; not to mention the many migrant women that suffer all kinds of humiliations including rape, human trafficking, and other undignified treatment.
The theme chosen by the United Nations for the 2018 international woman day is: “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. This theme compels all of us not to turn a blind eye on, and be deaf to such unacceptable situations of violence against women.
There is a wave of anger mounting from all layers of society demanding more justice for women. Shame on all of us, if we cannot relay this huge voice coming from the women and asking to stop this nonsense right away. Stop the violence, rape, harassment, undignified behavior against women. Each time any man is tempted to brutalize a woman, he should always remember that the person in front of him could be his mother, his sister, or his daughter. And if despite this he still wants to proceed, then he should be met by a system that provides a supportive service that encourages women and victims to report, provides adequate punishment for such crimes, and provides the appropriate support for any psychological health problem this perpetrator may have.
At UCLG Africa (http://AfriqueLocale.org) we consider gender equality and respect for women as a cardinal exigency. We solemnly condemn all forms of violence against women. And we recommend to our members to champion an education system where boys and girls are brought up as equals.
Our network of female local elected officials of Africa (REFELA), who represent both rural and urban communities across the continent, are making strides through their contributions to the fight for gender equality, and are working tirelessly in order that a gender sensitive dimension becomes one of the top priorities in the definition of African regional and local governments policies.
In a few weeks, REFELA will be launching a campaign on “African cities and territories zero tolerant to violence against women”. UCLG Africa encourages its members to subscribe to this campaign, and by so doing, show the resolve of African regional and local government leaders to shy away from these practices that do not honor our societies and communities.
Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi
Secretary General, UCLG Africa