UNWOMEN—Survivors of sexual violence from across Africa took to the floor 28 March to speak of their personal experiences and put forward their recommendations for action at the African Union Peace and Security Council’s Second Open Session on Sexual Violence, Women and Children in Armed Conflict.
At the UN Women-supported event, women from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Kenya, Somalia and Ivory Coast spoke of their experiences with sexual violence before an audience of high-level representatives, delegates and civil society members. The group of women, in a joint statement, stressed for urgent action to enhance women’s participation in peace processes and to end impunity by prioritizing women in the establishment of justice in the region. The women voiced their appreciation for the efforts that the AU has already put in place to answer to and prevent sexual violence, but recommended that the AU mobilize Member States to enforce the legal framework and provide medical care and psychological treatment to survivors.
During the event, Ms. Margot Wallström, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, called for a strong collaboration to end impunity and to restore justice for victims of sexual violence. She further highlighted the important role that the AU’s Peace and Security Council and the UN plays to combat the issue.
“From this moment on, conflict-related sexual violence [should] no longer [go] unreported, unaddressed or unpunished,” Wallström said. “That will be our collective measure of success.”
AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Lamamra Ramtane, highlighted the mechanisms put in place by the Commission on the issue, acknowledging the challenges. Ramtane stressed the strategies that need to be established at all levels of the Department and the Commission.
At the session, the preliminary report “Mitigating Vulnerabilities of Women and Children in Armed Conflict” was presented. The event also included statements by the European Union Delegation and a number of civil society organizations as well as remarks by delegates across Africa to express their solidarity and recommendations.
The AU Peace and Security Council is the decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa. It institutionalized the open session on Sexual Violence, Women and Children in Armed Conflict as a means to address the issue. UN Women supported the process in coordination with Oxfam and the civil society networks, Femmes Africa Solidarité and Issis WICCE.
For more information, contact daniel.almeida[at]unwomen.org, UN Women Liaison Office to the African Union and UNECA.