What you need to know:
- Ms Sarah Hassan and Ms Brenda Wairimu are among global celebrities and leaders to join the ‘Commonwealth Says NO MORE’ campaign.
- Campaign designed to help tackle the rapid increase in domestic and sexual violence due to the impacts of Covid-19.
- Partners unveiled the first pan-Commonwealth digital portal designed to support governments, civil society in identifying and implementing joint solutions.
- Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof. Margaret Kobia said violence against women and girls is a pandemic that attacks human dignity and destroys life.
Kenyan actresses have endorsed Commonwealth’s anti gender-based violence (GBV) campaign.
Ms Sarah Hassan and Ms Brenda Wairimu are among global celebrities and leaders to join the ‘Commonwealth Says NO MORE’ campaign aimed at reinforcing efforts towards ending violation of women and girls' rights.
In a statement released on September 14, the Commonwealth Secretariat said it had partnered with NO MORE Foundation to launch the campaign.
“The campaign (is) designed to help tackle the immediate crisis of the rapid increase in domestic and sexual violence due to the impacts of Covid-19 while also providing support for governments, organisations and individuals to confront this issue through longer-term prevention strategies and support,” it said in the report.
The launch was held recently at a special virtual event attended by representatives and advocates from across the Commonwealth and representing nearly one-third of the world’s population.
The partners unveiled the first pan-Commonwealth digital portal designed to support governments and civil society in identifying and implementing joint solutions.
The portal provides easy-to-use tools and resources to help governments and community-based organisations strengthen their efforts to support GBV victims.
It also offers one-stop access to information such as local hotlines, safety plans and legal guidance, and features guidelines to help citizens intervene when they witness violence.
“The new ‘Commonwealth Says NO MORE’ campaign is launched at a time when organisations across the globe have seen calls to hotlines for victims of abuse and demand for support services rise from between 25 and 300 per cent during Covid-19 lockdowns,” the statement read in part.
It added: “Even before the pandemic, one in three women across the world are beaten or sexually abused within their lifetime, making it a leading cause of death in woman and girls.”
In a video message to endorse the campaign, Ms Hassan said: “It’s time we all take a stand on an issue that affects one in three women worldwide.”
“And with Covid-19, we’ve seen the numbers increase drastically. This is a human rights violation that not only takes a toll on families and children, but on economies and communities as well. We can and must do better,” she added.
On her part, Ms Wairimu said: “This is an issue that is personal to me because, well, I have grown up around violence. And it has continued to follow me in and around my life as I see myself.
“But it hasn’t just impacted me. It’s an issue that millions of girls and women face in their lifetimes. The protection of women and girls from domestic and sexual violence must be at the heart of Covid-19 response and in everything that we do to create a safer, fairer and better world.”
Kiribati President Taneti Maamau, Antigua and Barbuda’s Governor-General Sir Rodney Williams, New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Helen Clark, British singer and Royal Commonwealth Society’s Ambassador Geri Horner are also other world leaders who have endorsed the campaign.
UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed, Indian actress and advocate for women’s rights Shabana Azmi, Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, Ghanaian actress Joselyn Dumas, British actor Colin Salmon and Australia actor Ryan Johnson are other celebrities.
Speaking at the launch, Commonwealth Secretary General Ms Patricia Scotland said: “It is indisputable that while the virus will pass one day, for many women, the ever-present threat of violence will remain.
She added that: “Covid-19 has emphatically exposed just how urgently we need a cure to flatten the rising curve of domestic and sexual violence. Business-as-usual is not an option….We must all use this opportunity to redouble our efforts to tackle and end this violence now.”
Ministry of Public Service and Gender Cabinet Secretary Prof. Margaret Kobia said violence against women and girls is a pandemic that attacks human dignity and destroys life.
“For too long, the society has not done enough. For too long, people have looked the other way, and they treated violence as a private matter left to the victims,” she said.
“Today I say no more. No more to FGM, no more to shame and no more lip service. Together, we can eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls. Join me in confronting the structure and the cultural barriers and get to zero gender-based violence,” she added.