Members of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OFLAD), on August 28, 2019, in a high level event focused on “zero gender-based violence for Africa’s future: Together we can” signed a declaration of commitment on Gender-based violence prevention and response.
The declaration is in line First Lady Fatima Bio’s ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ campaign. In February this year OFLAD broadened it’s mandate from focusing on just HIV/AIDS to concentrating on the development of Africa.
This is in line with the First Lady’s vision for her counterparts to deal with issues that affect the continent and develop positive programmes based on consultation with the people it affects directly.
OFLAD are strongly convinced that prevention of, and response to, gender based violence (GBV) and other harmful practices are essential to bridge gender gaps, generate a lasting impact on poverty and support sustainable economic growth and social well-being that benefits everyone.
For women to play an equal role in sustainable development, peace and security, they must be kept free from violence and represented politically and economically at all levels of decision making.
In her statement, First Lady Fatima Bio said she narrowly escaped forced marriage therefore advocating for the rights of women to her is personal. “As First Ladies we have a platform to make a change,” she said.
Emphasis was placed on the involvement of men, adolescents, religious and community leaders in the fight against gender-based violence and other practices such as early and forced marriage.
The high level event was co-organized by UNFPA and the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OFLAD) in collaboration with the African Union. It was held at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7).