The South African government has called for unity in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in dealing with violence against women.
Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi, the Deputy Director-General for Global Governance in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, described gender-based violence as one of the most pervasive human rights violations during times of conflict. Nkosi participated in a debate titled 'Women, Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict' on Tuesday at the UN headquarters in New York.
During his address, Nkosi said South Africa has emphasised the country's belief that violence against women is a serious crime that warrants more urgent and decisive action by the international community.
Nkosi used the platform to challenge the UNSC to prioritise "gender-sensitive responses and programmes" aimed at addressing the needs of women and girls, who are victims of sexual violence.
"South Africa firmly believes that essential services must be provided to the survivors of sexual violence. In line with our long-held position that sexual and reproductive health services are not only an important component of the right to health, they are critical for the overall empowerment of women. In the context of sexual violence in conflict, the lack of access to these services threatens the most sacrosanct of all human rights, namely, the right to life itself.
"Due to the inextricable link between sexual violence in conflict situations and gender inequality, South Africa, therefore, advocates for the equal and meaningful participation and full involvement of women in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security. Our efforts in peace and security are diminished while women continue to be under siege and at the receiving end of sexual violence," Nkosi said.
The debate on Women, Peace and Security is also expected to be a topical subject during South Africa's Presidency of the UNSC in October 2019, in line with South Africa's priorities during its term as an elected member of the Council.