Reflections on the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Sexual Violence in Conflict: The Nairobi Regional Meeting Day 2

Dudziro Nhengu
Posted March 2, 2014 from Zimbabwe

Today is the second day of the Nairobi Regional Meeting for the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict to be held in London from the 10th to the 13th of June 2014. This Campaign is the first global collaboration of Nobel Peace Laureates, international advocacy organisations and groups working at the regional and community levels in conflict areas. The Campaign will demand urgent and bold political commitments from the state leaders to prevent rape in conflict, to protect civillians and rape survivors, and call for justice for all – including effective prosecution of those responsible. There are 30 delegates in participation, powerful women speaking with one voice to end rape and sexual violence. The women have come from Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and of course my beloved country Zimbabwe. The venue is the Pan-African Hotel in Nairobi, and the event, the Regional Meeting on the Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict. Yesterday the women dedicated the day to action planning to create advocacy strategies for actions leading up to and during the Global Summit to end Sexual Violence in conflict. Today was action packed. The day started with women sharing concrete plans to engage with at the London summit to push the agenda for government leaders to commit to ending rape and gender violence in conflict. Strategies shared were many, and included lobbying in-country delegates for support; launching massive social media, in country media and international media campaigns, and working with media champions world over who have been key in pushing the women’s agenda; documenting key messages to target government leaders and the international community; documentation of lively survivors’ stories in-country for highlighting at the conference; engaging women and men in the diaspora for support and action; launching a petition for government Ministers to sign in commitment at the summit; strategically placing representatives of women at every open event or meeting, and seeking the support of the AU Special Envoy on Peace and Security to push the women’s agenda in all closed meetings and producing a campaign statement to be pushed through the AU gender desk on how rape and gender violence have negatively affected the Millennium Development Goals agenda, hence the need to stop it now if the achievements of the post 2015 Millennium Development Goals agenda are to be realised. Part of the day was spent preparing for advocacy visits the women representatives are going to undertake to their respective embassies tomorrow afternoon to press their demands for the Campaign agenda.. The last half of the afternoon was an interaction with representatives from the different embassies, the representative of UN Women in Kenya, representatives from various media and a female judge representing the Judiciary in Kenya, who all took turns to highlight their full support of women’s efforts to end rape and gender violence in conflict and in in post-conflict spaces. The success of the Nairobi Meeting is celebrated, and the enthusiasm of women in coming up with a list of strategies for action is notable. However, such enthusiasm needs to be followed up with serious and concerted commitments from the women themselves. Women need to rise above their individual differences and push the agenda with one spirit. They will also need maximum support from the UN and other development agencies, from donors and from women and men in the diaspora. Highlights for tomorrow also include celebration of the Africa Environment Day (AED) which was designated by Decision of AU Executive Council in 2002, and falls on 3 March; celebration of the Wangari Maathai Day, also designated by the AU Summit of February 2012 and observed in conjunction with AED in honour of the contributions of the late Nobel Laurette; as well as celebration of the World Wildlife Day recently proclaimed by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to raise awareness of the world’s wild fauna and flora. The women’s delegation will escort Wanjiru Mathaai, daughter to Wangari Maathai and Professor Mba to the tree that the late Peace Laurette planted at the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) offices where the two will share her herstory with participants. Kenya is a country rich in strong movements, and the lush green trees and shrubs in the Nairobi the city centre bear testimony to the beautiful results that the persistence, perseverance and endurance of Wangari Mathai brought. This meeting was made possible by a special collaboration between Nobel Peace Initiative Laurettes, international advocacy organisations, and groups working at the regional and community levels in conflict. My gratitude for support to participate at this historic event goes to Just Associates (JASS).

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