President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged African Union (AU) member states to actively drive the continent-wide campaign to end violence against women and girls.
Ramaphosa and several Cabinet members are in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the AU meeting of heads of state and government.
In his remarks at the presidential advocacy gender pre-summit breakfast on Saturday, Ramaphosa stated that the 2021 Kinshasa Declaration, which resulted from a men’s conference to end violence against women and girls, committed governments to provide the resources needed to end the scourge.
“South Africa wholly supports this critical platform. It is encouraging to see Heads of State responding positively to the call for more strategic collaboration to take this agenda forward.
“The Circle of Champions is about firstly, foregrounding the role of male leadership in the agenda of ending violence against women and girls across Africa.
“Secondly, it is about taking forward the commitments made in the Kinshasa Declaration and foregrounding accountability for delivering on them. For these reasons, the agenda must be driven at Heads of State level,” he said.
South Africa is one of the countries that has ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 190, which advocates for the abolition of workplace violence and harassment.
According to Ramaphosa, the AU has launched a campaign to change social norms regarding gender equality and violence against women and girls.
“Addressing economic and political practices alongside social norms is critical. Moreover, it is key to understanding how history and current realities shape the manifestations of violence against women and girls in our societies.
“The Circle of Champions brings together African leaders as a show of the highest political will towards ending the source of violence against women and girls. It is the first time this has happened on our continent.”
The AU’s theme for 2023 is “Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation.” The summit, according to the Presidency, will assess progress in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) following the start of trading on January 1, 2021.
As the AU Champion on Covid-19, Ramaphosa also spoke about the Africa Center for Disease Control.
He will be presenting reports to the AU assembly, including one on the AU response to Covid-19. The current AU chairperson is Senegal’s President, Macky Sall.