As Rwanda begins the 16 Days of Activism to eradicate Gender-Based Violence, Dr. Uwamariya Valentine, the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, urges local communities and Development Partners to unite and amplify their efforts in combating this issue.
To respond to the call, the Belgian Development Agency, Enabel, a development partner in Rwanda, is actively working towards addressing gender issues in the country.
In an interview with TOP AFRICA NEWS on Saturday, after the official launch of the 16 Days of Activism, against the GBV, the Resident representative of Enabel Rwanda, Dirk Deprez, highlighted the importance of tackling sexual violence and emphasized the need to focus on prevention rather than just treatment and management of victims.
Enabel Rwanda members during a session with RWAMREC
Enabel’s current program has dedicated significant attention to providing support and resources in GBV prevention through initiatives such as the capacity building and providing equipment for Isange One Stop Center, which offers access to healthcare and legal assistance. Enabel is also offering assistance to the victims of sexual violence across the country.
However, Dirk Deprez stressed the need to shift the focus towards changing mindsets and reducing the occurrence of sexual violence.
He said that “Recognizing that sexual violence encompasses not only physical but also psychological and economic aspects,”
“Enabel aims to challenge societal perceptions of gender roles.” He added.
Dirk acknowledged that this issue is not limited to Rwanda but is a global problem that requires efforts to deconstruct traditional notions of masculinity and promote gender equality.
He revealed that Enabel Rwanda is actively working within its own team to address these perceptions and promote a more balanced understanding of gender dynamics.
According to Rwanda’s Gender Minister, Men and Boys should take the lead in the elimination of GBV.
“”I specifically urge men and boys to demonstrate their involvement in the battle against gender-based violence, in order to create a more resilient and secure community.” She said.
ONE UN calls for Consulted Effort to address GBV
Citing statistics from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Control and UN Women, it was revealed that 245 million women and girls experience physical or sexual violence from intimate partners each year worldwide.
Additionally, more than five women or girls are killed every hour by someone in their family.
In Rwanda, the demographic and health survey of 2020 showed that 46% of women suffer from intimate partner violence, while 37% experience physical violence.
The UN Resident Coordinator Ozonnia Ojielo emphasized that economic crises, conflicts, and climate change have worsened this phenomenon.
He highlighted the importance of predictable financing from both domestic and external resources to end violence against women and girls.
He acknowledged the collaboration of various partners, including Sweden, the Swiss Development Corporation, the governments of Netherlands and Luxembourg, as well as the European Union, FCDO, GIZ, Enabel, and others.
To effectively address gender-based violence, the UN Resident Coordinator suggested applying gender-responsive budgeting, promoting positive masculinity, implementing laws and policies, empowering women economically, educating girls to prevent teen pregnancy, and providing essential services to victims and survivors.
Enabel and Budgeting for Gender inclusion
As explained by Dirk“In terms of budgeting for gender inclusion, Enabel is integrating gender transformative approaches into its new bilateral program.”
He said “This includes allocating resources specifically for gender-related initiatives across sectors such as health, agriculture, and urbanization.”
“Enabel recognizes that gender considerations are relevant in all aspects of society, including the roles and responsibilities assigned to women and men in agriculture and urban areas.” Dirk explained.
Engaging Men in GBV prevention
Speaking to TOP AFRICA NEWS shortly after an interactive Gender session with Enabel Team, Mr. Fidele Rutayisire, the Executive Director of RWAMREC, revealed that “the engagement of men and boys is very important in the struggle of fighting against gender-based violence.”
He said that men are part of the problem, but also they are part of the solution.
RWAMREC has been using various approaches to end Gender Based Violence or inequities where men take a centre stage in addressing the issue.
Mr. Rutayisire revealed that “the impact so far has been very inspiring and very good, because men are changing.”
“For instance, as I have presented, we have gender transformative interventions, which have been able to reduce 55% of physical and intimate partner violence at couples’ level.” He said.
“And also this has increased the involvement of men in maternal, newborn and child health, but also in unpaid care work, as well as in violence prevention.” He added.
Residents of Bugesera District celebrating after participating in a Community Work