Saturday, 8 March 2014

Speech by CYC Chair at the ceremony commemorating the 2014 international women's day at the Commonwealth Secretariat, London

Inspiring Change, Youth Strategies to end Violence against women: Speech by the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Youth Council (Ahmed Adamu) during the 2014 commemoration of the International Women Day, at the Commonwealth Secretariat. Friday, 7th March, 2014. It gives me great pleasure to speak on this great day, the day we celebrate and appreciate women for their service to humanity, sacrifice for prosperity, perseverance in democracy and dedication to family. On this day, we, the young people commit to pay respect to the mothers of all humankind, and declare a campaign against any sort of violence against women Women are the greatest and essential part of the world today, there are over 3.5 billion women in the world, and unfortunately 1.6 billion of these women are either abused physically or sexually during their lives. One third of women in the world are beaten, and in every 9 seconds, woman abuse occurs. More than 55% of women think beating is part of their marriage lives, and many times women try to commit suicide due to oppression. Women suffer sexual harassments in schools and work places, large number of girls are been trafficked into prostitution, force labour and slavery each year. Young mothers are been maltreated for giving birth to girl child, women are forced to feel how they wish they were men, and domestic violence has been on the increase. These are few of the stories that women across the world carry. Abuse and discrimination against women have cost the world peace in society, discipline in family and honesty in governance. Fighting violence against women is not only a struggle for women, it is equally a struggle for men, and it is strategic to engage young people in this campaign, so that the menace will not be passed to the next generation. The young people in the Commonwealth are determined to ensure zero violence against women in our generation. The gender consideration in all the Commonwealth institutions and programmes have exemplified the best practice to ensure respect and recognition for women. The Commonwealth Heads Governments, the Commonwealth Women Affairs ministers and the Commonwealth Youth have all condemned all sorts of discrimination against women. According to the 2013 youth declaration during the 9th Commonwealth Youth Forum in Sri Lanka, the young people reiterate their concerns on violence against women. They called on all Commonwealth member states to adopt quotas across all tiers of legislation with the aim to increase women’s representation to between 30% to 50% in political and other decision-making institutions. They also called on all member states to implement education programmes for young men and women that emphasize on gender fairness and the vital role of young women as key agents of national development. The young people also called on the Commonwealth Youth Council to advocate for comprehensive gender sensitization programmes which particularly address the harmful consequences of violence against women, men and children. That is why the Commonwealth Youth Council is exploring the establishment of a thematic Commonwealth Youth Group that will lead the campaign against any sort of violence or discrimination against women in all Commonwealth Nations. This campaign will target the causes of women abuse and what motivate men/women to engage in the abuse. One of the challenges that hinders the effectiveness of campaign against women abuse is the concentration of discussions on what women do to expose themselves to the abuse without considering what men do to cause the violence/abuse. In this campaign there is no victim side or perpetrators side, all men and women, young and adults have to come together to end the menace of women abuse. As Martin Luther King Junior said “what hurts more is not the words of an enemy but the silence of a friend. What hurts more is not the words of the perpetrators of women abuse/discrimination, but the silent of men. Mahatma Ghandi also said “we have to be the change you wish to see in this world.” Inter-generational discourse on how to end violence against women is timely and important; Women and girls make up 70% of the world’s poor, and are often the pillars of stability in communities, families and other social settings. One of the core values of the Commonwealth is to support the poor and the vulnerable groups, and this programme speaks volumes of this value that the Commonwealth uphold. I want to thank the Organizers of this meeting especially the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Commonwealth Youth Council will continue to partner and support any sort of initiatives to put an end to violence against women. (5 photos)

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