Commonwealth Women Leaders Unite in London to Combat Domestic and Sexual Violence

Visionary women leaders from across the Commonwealth have pledged in London to safeguard women and girls from domestic and sexual violence. This commitment is a unified effort from women across various professions to coordinate protective actions for women and girls, even in the most inaccessible areas of the 56 Commonwealth countries.

The initiative aligns with the gender equality goals set by the 2023 Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting and the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The event, led by Commonwealth Secretary-General The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, was graced by the attendance of Her Majesty The Queen and over a hundred other dignitaries.

stop violence against women
Commonwealth Women Leaders Unite in London to Combat Domestic and Sexual Violence 4

The Secretary-General’s opening remarks highlighted the urgent need for collective action against the widespread issue of domestic and sexual violence, affecting one in three women in their lifetimes. Rejecting the notion that ending this violence is impossible, she rallied for a world free of fear for women and children.

Panels of government, private sector, and civil society representatives discussed advocacy roles, the impact of domestic violence on mental health, and support systems for survivors. First ladies from Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Zanzibar shared distressing statistics on the violence faced by women and girls. Sierra Leone’s First Lady spoke about the ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign, which has successfully advocated for stricter penalties for rape in the country. The panelists suggested various measures, such as education to dismantle harmful cultural norms, one-stop support centers, engaging men in advocacy, and legal equality, to help end violence.

Maya Kirti Nanan, the 2023 Commonwealth Young Person of the Year, called attention to the unique risks faced by people with disabilities, while Rwanda’s Chief Gender Monitor shared the country’s progress in increasing conviction rates for violence against women and girls.Her Majesty The Queen received a report on the event’s outcomes, and the Secretary-General urged attendees to commit to at least one action to improve the lives of women and girls.

The event also featured insights from global leaders and health organizations, highlighting the Commonwealth Says NO MORE campaign, which provides tools to combat domestic and sexual violence. Video messages from NO MORE chapters in Cameroon and Cyprus showcased grassroots interventions and private sector engagement. The recommendations from this event will inform the ongoing efforts of the Commonwealth Says NO MORE campaign, strengthening the global fight against gender-based violence.

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