Kagame was speaking on Thursday 25th November 2021 at the men’s conference on Positive Masculinity hosted by his counterpart of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Félix Tshisekedi, the incumbent Chairperson of the African Union (AU).
The meeting coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2021.
Annual activities to celebrate 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence also kicked off the same day to be concluded on 10th December 2021 on Human Rights Day.
The men’s conference on Positive Masculinity held in Kinshasa, the capital of DRC is considered a great landmark in mobilizing African countries to actively support efforts aimed at eliminating violence against women.
It brought together Heads of State including Kagame, Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana, Macky Sall of Senegal, Denis Sassou-Nguesso of Congo Brazaville, Faure Gnassingbé of Togo and Félix Tshisekedi of RDC.
Other participating dignitaries include Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf, the patron of African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) and former President of Liberia and Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of AU Commission among others.
As he addressed participants, Kagame emphasized that Women and girls remain vulnerable to abuse ’despite our recognition that it is deeply wrong, and harmful to our collective development efforts’.
“There is no denying that men are generally the authors of violence against women and girls. Men have a special responsibility to speak out and take action,” he noted.
“We must act to tackle the structural impediments and deep-seated norms that fuel harmful masculinities, and cultivate instead, in the words of this conference, positive notions of masculinity,” Kagame added.
The President also emphasized that women’s empowerment should be anchored in strong legal and policy frameworks.
He pointed out an example of Rwanda’s efforts to the same cause where the country has established more than 40 Isange One Stop Centres around the country to provide protection and care to victims of gender-based violence, 24 hours a day.
Kagame further stated that it is time for countries to work together towards an African Union convention to eliminate violence against women and girls.
“Gender equality is much more than a moral obligation, it is a right which cannot be abridged. We must commit to tackling the negative mindsets in some men and boys that normalize violence against women and girls. Working together, we can end this scourge,” he said.
The meeting discussed needed actions to eliminate violence against women.
The Chairperson of AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat also said that ending the scourge is a collective responsibility and called for men’s active involvement along the journey.
Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf expressed optimism that the meeting will be more productive compared to previous ones noting that Heads of State can work in their respective capacities to design impactful policies to be implemented towards the common goal.