By Daniel Phiri
GOVERNMENTS of Sweden and Ireland have signed an agreement of cooperation with the United Nations committing US$4.7 million to support a joint program on Zero Tolerance to Gender-Based Violence (GBV) 365 in Zimbabwe.
The commitment comes at a time when the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) 2015 has confirmed that violence against women and girls remains a huge problem with at least 1in every 3 women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
ZDHS also revealed that 27 percent in the same age group 15 have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.
Addressing delegates at the signing ceremony, Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe Sofia Calltorp said her country is extremely excited to be part of the partners because gender issues are at the centre of every program they do in Zimbabwe
“Gender equality and rights of women and girls and children are part of every program we do throughout this country, and that is simply because we do not think there can be any social development, any economic development without gender equality.
“If we exclude half of the population we definitely won’t achieve the potential of this great country.
“We need to address GBV if we want to address and develop the core of society so I am extremely pleased to be here representing Sweden and committing US$3million to this program not only because this is key in addressing concerns such as GBV but also ensuring all partners work together,” she said.
Speaking on the same occasion Ireland Ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa Liam MacGabhann said his country wants the program to achieve a greater level of results and that they will support the program for the next five years
“We just want to deliver our message of support, it’s a clear message, it’s a simple message and it’s a short message that Ireland is there for the next 5 years to support the work against GBV working with partners that we have worked with in the past programs.
“We will be looking at these programs to achieve real results and we have seen some of those results today and we are encouraging upscaling of the effort to achieve an even greater level of results,” said Ambassador MacGabhann.
UN resident coordinator Bishow Parajuli said applauded the two countries for their kind gesture adding that it will go a long way in addressing challenges of gender-based violence in Zimbabwe.
“I want to thank Sweden and Ireland for your support and great cooperation with UN system and also the communities.
“I think our role is to reduce the suffering and pain people go through at the same time working with the government to address the root cause of it and prevent this from happening and stopping the stories of domestic violence issue, so thank you all development partners,” he said.
According to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Woman Affairs Sibusisiwe Zembe “for the government of Zimbabwe, this support will go a long way in addressing the problem of gender-based violence which has become one of the major sources of human insecurity in the country and also a major impediment to national development.
“I wish to assure you that the resources that are going to be availed and those that have been availed shall go a long way to reach the intended beneficiaries,” she said.