Zim, UN, EU Launch Spotlight Initiative

THE Zimbabwean Government on Wednesday jointly launched a multi-year Spotlight Initiative with United Nations and the European Union to assist women and girls realize their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive Zimbabwe.

By HealthTimes Reporter

The launch was presided President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa who was represented by Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Hon Professor Amon Murwira, European External Action Service Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Christian Leffler and Director Ms. Henriette Geiger (People and Peace in the Director General for Development and Cooperation of the European Commission); UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Bishow Parajuli.

“Violence against women and girls often go unreported and are usually concealed within families. My Government is committed through the Spotlight Initiative to put in place measures that will unmask the challenge and enable policy makers to realize that the issue has negative impact on Gross Domestic Product and national development that needs to be dealt with swiftly,” the President said.

Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni underscored Government’s commitment to address this issue.

“No one shall be left behind as we boldly march towards realizing our national vision 2030. It will be foolhardy to believe that vision 2030 will be realized without embracing the elimination of violence against women and girls as one of the key national development priorities,” she said.

The Spotlight Initiative with a financial commitment of 500 million Euros by European Union is a global joint United Nations and European Union initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in all continents. Africa will receive Euro 250 million, half of the global amount for eight countries including Zimbabwe plus an African Regional programme.

The European Union has committed USD 34 million for the Spotlight Initiative country programme in Zimbabwe, which will be implemented by UN in partnership with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development and civil society organisations.

“Gender-based violence is not inevitable – it is literally man-made. The solution lies with the strong cooperation of all of us, international actors, government, CSO, local authorities and citizens,” said European External Action Service Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Christian Leffler.

The Spotlight Initiative will ensure that all women and girls benefit from adequate legislation and policies, gender responsive institutions, violence prevention programmes, essential services, comparable and reliable data, and strong women’s movements and civil society organisations.

UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Bishow Parajuli said the Spotlight Initiative in Zimbabwe builds on global efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on gender equality as well as health and wellbeing.

“The Initiative tackles head-on sexual gender based violence by paving the way for women and girls to have a “voice”, “choice” and “control” over their lives, particularly their ability to make decisions, pursue education, provide for themselves and their families and actively participate in their community,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative country programme targets directly and indirectly 11 million beneficiaries particularly rural women and girls, women and girls living with disabilities, and women living with HIV.

Sixty percent (60%) of the Spotlight Initiative country programme intervention will be implemented at community level in 23 districts in five provinces. The five provinces are: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Manicaland, Matabeleland South, and Harare.

Gender-based violence is a serious concern in Zimbabwe as it is in the rest of the world. At least 1 in every 3 women (15 – 49) have experienced physical violence (35%) while 1 in every 5 women (17%) have experienced sexual violence. In most cases, perpetrators are the intimate partners.

Other harmful practices such as child and early and forced marriages, which constitute a serious violation of the sexual, reproductive and health rights of women and girls in Zimbabwe, leading to higher rates of early pregnancy and increased risks of exposure to HIV/AIDS and high level of maternal mortality.

Gender-based violence is a well-documented human rights violation, a public health challenge, and a barrier to civic, social, political, and economic participation. It undermines the safety, dignity, and overall health status, social and economic wellbeing of the individuals who experience it.

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