The African Union (AU) on Monday stressed the participation and representation of women in all decision-making bodies, calling for putting an end to violence against women.

“On this International Women’s Rights Day, I have a special and affectionate thought for all the African women in cities, and especially in the rural areas, who live in pain, suffer in silence, and are victims of physical or sexual violence,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU Commission, said in a statement marking March 8, International Women’s Day.

“The African Union has made gender equality and the empowerment of women one of its priorities,” Mahamat said.

Mahamat went on to say that the equality and empowerment of women are seen as an opportunity to get African women “out of their deplorable conditions, made up of violence, exclusion and prejudice.

“Unfortunately, these wrongs exist and persist in most African countries. Women and girls continue to be the primary victims of the conflicts and crises afflicting our continent.”

The AU’s top official said the coronavirus pandemic marked a worrying setback in “gender equality and the empowerment of women.”

Mahamat called for putting an end to acts of violence against women, hailing South African President Cyril Ramaphosa for proposing an African convention on violence against women.

Mahamat praised the AU’s new Chairman Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for his commitment to pursue this action.

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