It’s much more pronounced and widespread in conflict-affected countries where Gender Based Violence is used as a weapon in war.
Every year, almost 40 000 girls under the age of 18 are married off, and an estimated three million girls in Africa are at risk of genital mutilation. In South Sudan, a vast number of women have also been victims of violence and sexual abuse during the civil war. Norway, Sweden, Canada, Japan, Germany and other members of the international community have enhanced their focus on Women, Peace and Security in South Sudan.
Speaking as a representative for the donor community during the launch of 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls at Nyakuron Cultural Centre in Juba, Mr. Lars Andersen, the Norwegian Ambassador to South Sudan, said ending violence against women and strengthening women’s role in society is a top priority in Norway’s foreign policy. He announced that the Norwegian Government is planning to allocate at least NOK 1 billion globally in support for women’s rights and gender equality as part of its 2019 aid budget. He said this ‘women’s billion’ is almost a 7% year on year increase to its previous contribution.
In addition, Norway is funding measures to improve women’s wellbeing and maternal health as part of its global health efforts in promoting women’s rights in development policy. UNWomen and the UNFPA are amongst Norway’s most important partners for promoting these efforts.
Mr. Andersen stressed that violence against women and girls must be stopped and can be stopped. He said laws and policies are powerful tools to punish perpetrators. “We will work to promote gender equality and reverse the setbacks that we have seen in some places on women’s rights,” he said.
The Norwegian Ambassador also called upon the South Sudanese government to improve access to justice for victims to end impunity. He said holding perpetrators accountable will not only bring justice to the victims, but will also send a strong signal that violence against women will not be tolerated. Prevention is key to stopping the violence, and he said all men also must be part of the efforts to change the attitudes and cultures that permits the violence against the women to continue.