By Michael Gwarisa
In a bid to raise awareness around Gender Based Violence (GBV) and to spotlight struggles facing women and girls in reaching their full potential, Zimbabwe has officially launched the 2023 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
The launch was organised by the United Nations Population Fund in Zimbabwe (UNFPA-Zimbabwe), as a precursor to the commencement of the official campaign period which kicks off on November 25, marking the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which is an internationally recognised campaign on ending GBV.
Officially Launching the Campaign, Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said while Zimbabwe has progress in addressing GBV, there is need to address the underlying causes of GBV at community level.
With one in three females having a lifetime experience of GBV in Zimbabwe, it is clear that the phenomenon is widespread, occurring across all socio-economic, cultural backgrounds and regions of the country. Gender-based violence prevention initiatives not only address immediate harm but also challenge the deeply entrenched norms, attitudes, and power dynamics that perpetuate inequality,” said Senator Mutsvangwa.
She added that it was crucial for Zimbabwe to take stock, reflect and devise strategies on how to further address the problem of gender-based violence with the hope of ending it in all its forms.
“Let me take this opportunity to highlight some of the investments that the Government has made, with support from partners to address Gender Based Violence in our Country. I am proud to state that as the Government of Zimbabwe, issues of Violence against Women and girls remain high on our agenda.
“The High-Level Political Compact on Ending Violence against Women and Harmful Practices signed by our President, His Excellency Dr. E.D Mnangagwa bears a stand-alone pillar on Prevention. Similarly, the National GBV Strategy is explicit in highlighting Prevention as the key in addressing GBV. These two key documents are a testament to the plans we have despite having adequate resources to finance the full realisation of the provisions of the action plans.”
She also hinted at how her ministry has established One Stop Centres in Rusape, Gweru, Gwanda, Bindura, Chinhoyi and Bulawayo, and it is our intention to have these set up in every Province in a bid to fight GBV at the community level.
“We have managed to set up these Centres with support from UNFPA, SIDA (Swedish Fund), Government of Japan and in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care as these Centres are situated within Hospitals. 2023 will see the setting up of 2 additional One Stop Centres in Marondera and Lupane, with resources from the Government of Zimbabwe. This year alone, the 6 One Stop Centres have offered services to at least 1,500 survivors of gender-based violence,” she said.
The Ministry of Women Affairs working with civil Society particularly Musasa and Family Aids Caring Trust (FACT), has also coordinated the setting up of Shelters around the country. Under the Spotlight Initiative, through interventions targeting the economic empowerment of women, a total of 2 500 women of the most marginalized women (GBV survivors, women living with HIV, impoverished women in rural areas) benefited from the empowerment initiatives under the programme.
Speaking at the same event, the Swedish Embassy in Zimbabwe Head of Development Cooperation and Deputy Head of Mission, Berhollet Bwira Kaboru said, “Let’s foster partnerships, work hand in hand, governments, civil societies, and communities to accelerate progress, create lasting impact and ensure that we end all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
“We must change the story, challenge misogyny and violence, and make sure women are heard. Women and girls everywhere should be able to access the help they need when they need it, so we can end violence once and for all.”
He also said the Embassy is fully supportive of the Government and will make deliberate steps to further engage with the Ministry in order to find a lasting solution.
Meanwhile, Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe, His Excellency, Adler Aristilde said, “Eliminating sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms and in all settings is a priority for Canada’s international assistance. We are advancing this comprehensively, through multi-sectoral programming and we have integrated it across our international assistance programs in areas such as health, education, and inclusive governance.”
“In 2019, Canada’s Prime Minister announced a new commitment to invest an average of $1.4 billion annually, starting this year, to promote the health and rights of women, by supporting women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health in developing countries, with $700 million of the annual investment dedicated to sexual reproductive health and rights, including sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage,” he said.
Canada is currently supporting female students to take on leadership roles in student government at post-secondary institutions. They are also supporting training and mentorship opportunities for female journalists to cover women’s issues and normalize female voices as authoritative sources of news and information.
“Canada is supporting community radio to advance gender equality in the media and transform perceptions about the roles of women and girls in society. Canada is bolstering the confidence, assertiveness and leadership skills of female high school students through debate and public speaking. Canada is supporting survivors of sexual violence through counselling services. We are contributing to the socio-economic empowerment of women through skills development and entrepreneurship training.”
The 2023 16 Days of Activism Against GBV is running under the theme, “UNITE! Invest to Prevent Violence against Women & Girls.