– Organizes forum for African traditional authorities to eradicate gender-based violence
Traditional leaders from West Africa and Central Africa recently got together in Douala, Cameroon, on December 14 and 15, 2022, to discuss their roles and contributions in the fight to end gender-based violence in the two sub-regions.
UN Women Africa reports that there were a total of eighty traditional leaders present at the forum that was held in Douala. These traditional leaders came from the countries of Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Togo, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
UN Women revealed that the purpose of the forum is to concentrate on prevention by addressing the structural causes of violence against women and girls in Africa, as well as associated factors and risks associated with such violence.
Mrs. Marie-Thérèse Abena Ondoa, Cameroon’s Minister for the Promotion of Women and the Family, stated while she was speaking at the forum that “despite the law of silence, the percentage of reported cases is increasingly high, with a prevalence of over 40%.” It is estimated that one in every three women will experience some form of physical, sexual, or psychological violence during her lifetime.
On the other hand, the data on the prevalence of intimate partner violence in Central Africa range from 28% in Sao Tome and Principe to over 56% in Equatorial Guinea. This suggests that the problem is more widespread in Equatorial Guinea.
From 21.9% in Gabon to 61% in the Central African Republic, the prevalence of child marriage varies widely across the continent. In spite of the fact that some countries do not engage in the practice, the rate of female genital mutilation in Chad is over 34%. In Cameroon, 39% of women aged 15–49 have experienced some form of physical abuse since the age of 15, most often at the hands of a family member or close friend.
For her part, Ms. Florence Raes, the Regional Director a.i. for West and Central Africa for UN Women, argues that the first decades may not have focused on a key partnership, but that today it is about working together with traditional and religious leaders because they are the fundamental relays of the realities that girls experience in their communities. This is because traditional and religious leaders are the fundamental relays of the realities that girls experience in their communities because they are the fundamental relays of the realities that girls experience in their communities.
Also speaking was Chief Fonjinju Tatabong Alexander of Melong in Cameroon’s littoral region. He stated that they are the holders of ancestral power and that they are being called upon to use it to put an end to the various forms of male dominance that contribute to the perpetual reproduction of inequality and violence in society.
According to Chief Alexander, the traditional African practices that they uphold are ones that are beneficial to the administration of justice and the safeguarding of the rights of women.
During the closing remarks, the traditional leaders and Ms. Arlette Mvondo, who is the UN Women Cameroon Country Officer and the Technical Chair of the French Muskoka Fund, made a list of recommendations.
Ms. Mvondo recommends that they would like to make the regional forum an annual meeting, launch an innovation award to promote inspiring initiatives of traditional leaders against violence against women and girls, and organize capacity building and project support workshops to accelerate the implementation of the recommendations. She also recommends that they would like to launch an innovation award to promote inspiring initiatives of traditional leaders against violence against women and girls.
UN Women is of the opinion that a paradigm shift is required in order to make an impact and bring these numbers down.