The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) today launched the ‘16 Days Activism Against Gender-Based Violence’ campaign, aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in Somalia.

The campaign, launched by the AU Mission simultaneously in Somalia’s regional capitals, is part of a global campaign to create awareness about some of the most widespread human rights violations.

The global theme of the campaign this year is “Leave No One Behind – End Violence Against Women And Girls”.

“The overall theme correlates to AMISOM’s role as a peace support operation, in which we support the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States to provide a secure environment where children feel safe to go to school; where civilians can thrive and go about their daily activities unhindered; where communities appreciate the civil liberties that come with the presence of peace and security,” said Ms. Christine Alalo, AMISOM Deputy Police Commissioner, during the launch of the campaign, in Mogadishu.

Ms. Alalo urged victims of gender-based violence to speak out and break the silence on these violations.

“When we keep quiet and don’t talk about it, then we are also perpetrators of gender-based violence,” Ms. Alalo remarked.

AMISOM is committed  to ending violence against women and girls, considered as the most extreme form of discrimination; and subscribes to the ideals enshrined in the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa; the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; the AU Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa; the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa and Declaration 229 (X11) adopted by the AU proclaiming 2010-2020 as the African Women’s Decade, as well as other international conventions on human rights.

According to a 2016 UN report based on data from 87 countries, 19 percent of women aged between 15 and 49 years, have experienced physical and/or sexual violence.

According to the report, harmful practices such as female genital mutilation, which is still widely practised in Somalia, and is considered an extreme case of violence against women, has declined by 24 per cent worldwide, although prevalence remains high in at least 30 countries.

Research shows that achieving gender equality helps in preventing conflict, and high rates of violence against women.