African Women Summit Endorses New Plan to Fight Violence Against Women
For Immediate Release
NAIROBI, 31 August-- The V-Day Africa Summit, which gathered 48 women from 17 African countries, concluded today, with a declaration calling on all governments to ensure respect for women, especially those caught up in dangerous conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Libya, Somalia and Sudan.
The V-Day Summit signed up to a plan to launch the One Billion Rising Campaign (www.onebillonrising.org), a global action inviting women and men to strike, rise and dance on 14.02.13, and to produce productions of The Vagina Monologues continent wide in which the play will be performed on the same day in January leading up to One Billion Rising.
The international gathering of anti-violence activists and social entrepreneurs called on governments to implement the African Union (AU) protocol that bans harmful traditional practices that limit women from enjoying their full rights.
The Summit adopted a declaration rejecting all forms of gender-based abuses and specifically the use of rape as a weapon of war. The Summit also affirmed its commitment to fight all forms of abuses, including rape, domestic violence, honour killings, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child and forced marriage, incest and teen-dating abuses.
"Women perish because of lack of knowledge about their rights. "I have taken people to court for performing FGM and won," said V-Day Kenya Director Agnes Pareyio, a former UN Personality of the Year Laureate who has led a tireless fight against the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) amongst the Maasai community.
Delegates from Burundi, DRC, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe, attended the 27-31 August meeting. It resolved to form a solidarity network of women activists to intensify its campaign against violence and vile treatment of women, especially those in the conflict zones.
Christine Schuler Deschryver, V-Day DRC Director said: "For the African women who attended, the V-Day Africa Summit was "our" summit. It was a place to open our hearts, to tell our stories and break the shame, and move our work forward in a unified, radical way."
The AU has endorsed several protocols, including the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality, which seeks to end violence against women, their exclusion from politics and decision-making and high illiteracy levels due to limited access to education amongst girls.
Participants at the V-Day Africa Summit, agreed to launch a continental campaign to lobby all governments to take action against the "femicide" in the DRC, where women are often roundly abused sexually in a systematic attack that targets them for their weakness.
"Violence against women takes place around the vagina. We gathered here to create a powerful force against these continuing abuses and ensure that issues around sex are not treated as taboo subjects because that way, we are able to become part of the solution to the problem," said Mumbi Kaigwa, the Convener of the V-Day Africa Summit.
Through her work of art, Kaigwa, a prominent actor, writer and playwright known best for her Vagina Monologues productions, has raised funds to build safe houses for girls escaping FGM.
Eve Ensler, the internationally renowned playwright of The Vagina Monologues and Founder of V-Day, a worldwide movement against gender violence, said "For the last fifteen years, I have witnessed the worst atrocities and violence perpetrated against women and girls throughout Africa and the entire world. No matter what culture, what religion, the vagina is still not honored, cherished and protected. The time is now, that is why we are rising."
The last line of the V-Africa Summit Declaration is that we must love, honor, and cherish the vagina, the cradle of humankind.
About Agnes Pareyio
As a victim of violence against girls, Agnes Pareyio's brave battle against the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) led her to carry out a door-to-door campaign, using a wooden vagina to raise awareness about the perils of the female cut. Its impact was phenomenal. To advance this innovative campaign, she set up the Tasaru Ntomonok Centre, a safe house for girls escaping the vice. The Centre is also know as the V-Day Safe House for Girls.
About Eve Ensler
Eve Ensler is a Tony award winning playwright, performer and activist. She is the author of The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 140 countries. Eve's newest work, I Am An Emotional Creature: The Secret Life Of Girls Around The World, was published in book form and made The New York Times Best Seller list. The play, Emotional Creature was workshopped in Johannesburg, South Africa, followed by Paris, France. It opened at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in June 2012, and will open in November 2012 Off-Broadway, New York City. She is also the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised over $90 million dollars.
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In 2012, over 5,800 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 13,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Over 300 million people have seen a V-Day benefit event in their community. V-Day has received numerous acknowledgements including Worth Magazine's 100 Best Charities, Marie Claire Magazine's Top Ten Charities, one of the Top-Rated organizations on Philanthropedia/ Guidestar and Great Nonprofits. www.vday.org