I would like to begin by thanking President Tshisekedi for convening this conference to bring into focus the role of men in the elimination of violence against women and girls.

I also thank President Nana Akufo-Addo for his leadership as the African Union Champion for Gender and Development, as well as the work of the African Women Leaders Network, led by Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Women and girls remain vulnerable to abuse, despite our recognition that it is deeply wrong and harmful to our collective development efforts.

There is no denying that men are generally the authors of violence against women and girls. Men, therefore, have not only a special responsibility to speak out, but also to take action.

We must act to tackle the structural impediments and deep-seated norms that fuel harmful masculinities, and cultivate instead, in the words of this conference, positive notions of masculinity.

Gender equality is much more than a moral obligation, it is a right which cannot be abridged.

Women’s empowerment should be anchored in strong legal and policy frameworks.

In Rwanda, we have established more than 40 Isange One-Stop Centres around the country to provide protection and care to victims of gender-based violence, 24 hours a day.

This has led to an increase in the number of reported cases, because victims feel safer coming forward.

The African Union has a key leadership role to play in scaling up proven solutions around our continent.

The African Union’s ability to sustainably finance initiatives to combat violence against women and girls will speed up progress, working together with member states, as well as programs like the United Nations HeForShe Champions initiative.

It is time to work together towards an African Union convention to eliminate violence against women and girls.

To conclude, I want to emphasize that to see tangible results, peace and security must remain at the forefront of our agenda.

But most importantly, we must commit to tackling the negative mindsets in some men and boys that normalize violence against women and girls.

Working together, we can end this scourge, and here I wish to thank you for your kind attention.