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AU official renews call for action on gender-based violence 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- African governments should prioritize enactment of punitive legislation and public awareness in order to eradicate the scourge of violence against women and girls, an African Union official said on Thursday.

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, the AU Goodwill Ambassador on ending child marriage, said that enlightened policies and legislation alongside economic empowerment is key to end discrimination and violence targeting the female gender.

“We need a new roadmap to strengthen our response to gender based violence that is still rampant in our communities,” Nyaradzayi said.

“Law enforcement is a good deterrent measure but communities must be prevailed upon to discard archaic cultural practices that sanction violence against women and girls,” she added.

Nyaradzayi spoke at the Africa youth conference in Nairobi where delegates agreed that children, women and girls have borne the brunt of violence, discrimination and abuse in the continent.

“Ending all forms of violence against women and girls is an imperative to help Africa realize full potential. We should also create safe spaces for victims of gender based violence to recover and make a positive contribution to their communities,” said Nyaradzayi.

She said that AU member states have rallied behind international best practices to revitalize war against gender based violence including rape, early marriages and female genital cut.

African campaigners have advocated for retraining of law enforcement personnel like police and prosecutors as a means to enhance response to gender based violence.

Mandisa Mzindle, the founder of a South African gender advocacy group, said that a new conversation is required to explore innovative ways to end violence against African women and girls.

“Promoting gender equality through affirmative action could neutralize harmful practices that have confined women and girls to the periphery,” said Mzindle.

“Community leaders have a duty to engage men and boys in this endeavor to end violence targeting the female gender,” she added.

Winny Obure, a Kenyan gender rights activist, said that targeted interventions like skills development, mentorship and gainful employment could minimize abuse and discrimination affecting women and girls in Africa.


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