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Statement by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina President of the African Development Bank Group – 16 Days of Activism 2022 Against Gender-Based Violence

Africa can only reach its full development potential with its women. I have always been insistent that no bird can fly or soar with one wing. Likewise, Africa can only fly on the wings of men and women.

For generations, Agriculture has been a critical component of Africa’s economy. The bulk of the food Africa eats is produced by women farmers. Africa is also home to the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs on the planet. In almost every country, community and market place on women are successfully running micro, small and medium enterprises. Increasingly, women are also leading in Africa’s C-suites. But there is so much more to be done to achieve parity.

Progress towards the Africa we want is hampered by the repugnant gender-based violence that takes on many forms – physical, psychological, financial, and online. Collectively, gender-based violence limits Africa’s economic growth.

Ending gender-based violence is also a human rights issue that calls for equity and justice, as well as decency and respect for each other. This is an urgency of now that must permeate our homes, workplaces, and the design and implementation of development projects for the people we serve.

Today – International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – marks the start of the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign. Running through to December 10, 2022, the 16 Days of Activism is an important period to reflect – and act – on solutions to end gender-based violence.

The African Development Bank Group embraces this campaign, the creation of the United Nations UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence against Women initiative, and the 16 Days of Activism theme for this “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence Against Women and Girls.”

This theme is consistent and in sync with our Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and Gender Strategy (2021-2025), as well as our High 5s priority areas that all call for inclusiveness for Africa’s economic growth.

According to UN Women estimates, nearly one in three women worldwide have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, non-partner or both, at least once in their lifetime.

Getting an accurate understanding of this issue in Africa remains a challenge: only 18 out of 54 African countries have data on violence perpetrated by an intimate partner. However, the Bank’s Gender Data Index research suggests a prevalence of intimate partner sexual or physical violence ranges from little over 10% to close to 40% across Africa.

Our research, also indicates that trigger factors stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and rising food and fuel prices in Africa, will result in increased gender-based violence on the continent. This presents high risks to Bank’s operations.

Last year, I issued an internal presidential directive to affirm the Bank’s zero tolerance for sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.

Also, the Bank recently made a General Capital Increase commitment to advance standards to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, internally within our workplace and in projects funded by the Bank. In addition, our Integrated Safeguard System provides guidance on preventing gender-based violence in projects.

For Africa to truly prosper, we must tackle head on, a myriad of issues around child marriage, violence against women and girls, and female genital mutilation, through reliable data, productive policy dialogue, advocacy, and impactful projects.

The African Development Bank Group takes gender-based violence very seriously. Be on the look out for updates on Bank opportunities during the 16 Days of Activism campaign and beyond. Ultimately, we can all support advocacy and engagement in several ways. Through more inclusive data generation, consultations, programs and policies, attitudinal changes, shifts in mindsets, and by improving the quality of life for all the people of Africa.  

I stand for a violence-free world and workplace. And so should you!

UNiTE. Together, we can end gender-based violence!

Thank you.

Source African Development Bank Group

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