Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Ceremony for the Centre of Excellence for the Fight against Violence against Women and Children, in Kigali, on 23 May:

It is a profound honour to join you as we lay the foundation stone for this vital centre of excellence. I see reflected in all of you, Rwanda’s strong political commitment to prevent and combat violence against women and children.

I thank President [Paul] Kagame and his Government, including the members of the Security Organs. The United Nations System has been your long-term partner in addressing all forms of violence against women and children in Rwanda.

And you have made a profound difference. You have established one-stop centres where victims and survivors can receive free legal and medical assistance and counselling. You have helped lead the way on community policing and introduced gender desks in the National Police and Defence Forces. You are Africa’s leading contributor of female police officers to United Nations peacekeeping missions.

And now, this Centre will enhance cooperation between security institutions across Africa. It will strengthen mechanisms and policies to prioritize prevention and address violence against women and children, especially in conflict.

This is a pressing priority for me as United Nations Secretary-General. Women and children have the right to feel safe and live with dignity — in all places, at all times — in war and peace, in poverty and wealth, inside and outside their homes, schools and places of work.

That is why I launched the campaign “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” in 2008. And it is why I welcome today the renewed engagement of several African security institutions in this cause.

I count on this Centre to galvanize stepped up action against violence across Africa. As we lay the foundation of this Centre, we recognize that women and girls are the foundation of all our societies.

Let us unite to change the practices and attitudes that incite, perpetrate and condone unacceptable violence and abuse. Let us resolve to do all we can to ensure lives of security, opportunity, dignity and hope for every woman and every girl, everywhere. Thank you.

rwanda womenEvery year, the UN announces an International Women’s Day theme and for 2013 it is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”. The purpose of this theme is to promote on-going efforts at the national level and globally to end violence against women, share experiences and innovations in delivering on commitments to women and girls, and support efforts and strategies, particularly at the national level to increase investments focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The theme is aligned with that of the Commission on the Status of Women at its fifty-seventh session, which is currently taking place in New York and is attended by a delegation from Rwanda. READ MORE


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