Men can do more to prevent gender-based violence, says Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday said ending violence against women and girls is a collective responsibility but the onus is greater on men.
“We owe it to the women and girls of our continent to be better men, better fathers, better caregivers, better partners and better sons,” he said.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the third AU men’s conference in Pretoria.
He co-hosted the session with president of the Comoros and AU chair Azali Assoumani.
Men, he said, should be at the forefront of the change that they want to see in their communities.
“We seek a world in which every African man, woman and child can live in true freedom and equality with their rights respected, upheld and advanced.”
This is possible through the prevention of violence against women and girls, he said.
“We cannot realise a society free of violence against women and children without critically interrogating the assumptions around patriarchy, male chauvinism and sexism. It is these assumptions and, in some cases, traditions, that lead young men and boys to believe that women are property, that they are worth less than them as men and deserving of ill treatment. This is a conversation that men need to have.”
Ramaphosa said the conference is about positive masculinity and challenging traditional stereotypes about being a man, redefining norms and expectations placed on men.
“Positive masculinity encourages men to embrace qualities such as empathy, vulnerability, emotional intelligence and respect for diversity.”
South Africa has several programmes that elevate positive masculinity as part of the fight against gender-based violence.
“This conference is an opportunity to consolidate our political commitment to accelerate our collective effort and to define men’s contribution to ending violence against women and girls.”
He said South Africa has taken a holistic approach to dealing with the scourge.
“We need to step up the prevention agenda. The circle of champions must continue to inspire high-level leadership in ending violence against women and girls.
“There must be renewed support for the AU commission in ensuring the Maputo protocol scorecard and index for the realisation of women’s rights is popularised and implemented.
“As we move ahead in negotiating an African convention on ending violence against women and girls, we must ensure there is accountability through monitoring and evaluating progress in meeting the commitments of the Kinshasa declaration.”
Leaders must also address structural inequality by broadening women’s access to resources, jobs and opportunities while introducing laws, policies and programmes that advance women’s economic empowerment.
“One of the simple laws that needs to be passed is the discrimination in pay levels where men and women are paid different salaries for the same job. We must ban that type of practice and we develop clear policies on how we address and combat and eliminate violence against women and girls.”
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