THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says it is committed to working with all stakeholders including the media industry in disseminating and communicating interventions under the Spotlight Initiative.
By Michael Gwarisa
The Spotlight Initiative is a global partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It was launched in September 2017 by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General and the European Union (EU) High Representative and Vice President (HRVP).
Speaking on behalf of the UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Esther Muia during a media training on Spotlight Media Guidelines for GBV reporting, UNFPA Technical Specialist Gender Based Violence Ms Verena Bruno said guidelines have been developed to ensure the media reports responsibly and effectively around issues to do with Sexual and Gender Based violence and other various forms of abuse.
The media is an important partner in the fight against GBV. The media is among the institutions in society that can either perpetuate gender norms and stereotypes or can be an agent of change. Strengthening the representation and the voices and perspectives of women and girls, especially those who face intersecting forms of discrimination, in and through the media, is important to give visibility to the issue through the voices of those most affected and marginalized.
“It is therefore quite notable that under the Spotlight Initiative to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls these guidelines have been developed, in a joint effort to help the media report in a responsible and effective manner. Members of the media, GBV remains a huge problem in Zimbabwe, affecting many women and girls. Addressing GBV requires the collective efforts of many stakeholders, including you the media,” said Ms Bruno.
She added UNFPA as the lead agency within the UN system in addressing Gender Based Violence, has been leading such efforts working with the Government of Zimbabwe and in collaboration with other Spotlight RUNOs.
“The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey for 2015 confirms that violence against women and girls remains a huge problem. At least 1 in every 3 women aged 15-49 having experienced physical violence since the age of 15 & 27% percent of women 15-49 have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.
“The MICS 2019 data indicate a further increase of GBV in the past years, at 39%, with a 4% increase as compared to the 2015 ZDHS data. As you know, GBV is also exacerbated by various contributing factors, such as humanitarian crises, experienced in Zimbabwe in the firm of climate change emergencies (recurrent drought and floods, cyclone Idai) as well as disease outbreaks and the latest COVID19 pandemic.”
Under the Spotlight Initiative, there are a number of interventions that are being implemented prevent and respond to Gender Based Violence.
These include ensuring survivors have access to essential multi-sectoral services, engaging men and boys in prevention and awareness efforts, strengthening the capacity of institutions such as the police and courts to respond to GBV, working with Faith based organizations and traditional leaders to shift cultural beliefs and practices, engaging youth, supporting teachers and other community structurers on GBV norms changing and strengthening referrals to life-saving services.
“It is therefore important for you members of the media to know about all this work so that you can inform the public and help raise awareness about GBV. UNFPA remains committed to work with all stakeholders in providing quality prevention and response services to survivors of GBV. With support from development partners and the donor community, we remain committed to supporting efforts to end GBV in Zimbabwe.
“May I extend gratitude to the Government of Zimbabwe for the collaborative effort and leadership to end GBV in Zimbabwe. May I also extend special gratitude to the European Union that through the Global Spotlight Initiative and other funding is supporting efforts to eliminate Gender Based Violence and ensure a brighter future for the most vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, outgoing Zimbabwe Union of Journalists president, Mr Michael Chideme said there was need for journalists to interrogate other forms of violence.
“The media remain a key pillar in fighting and ending GBV. it is also essential for journalists to cover other forms of GBV fro example violence against men being perpetrated by women. There is need to have such information in the public domain to ensure the burden of GBV is eradicated from all angles,” said Mr Chideme.