By Faith Chimutsa
The Government of Zimbabwe in partnership with other stakeholders from the independent Commissions, Traditional Leaders, Religious Leaders, Donor Community, UN Agencies and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) made a commitment and declaration to ending Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Harmful Practices to women and girls in Zimbabwe.
Under the Global Spotlight Initiative to eliminate Violence against Women and girls, the Government made a commitment and declaration to ending GBV and Harmful Practices through the signing and launch of the High Level Political Compact which presents a huge opportunity for concerted efforts from
all stakeholders towards ending GBV and Harmful Practices in the country.
Speaking at the national commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence at Maramba in Mashonaland East province, on Friday, Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said guided by this commitment from the
highest office in the land, her ministry together with other stakeholders are endlessly making efforts to implement prevention and response programmes including awareness raising and provision of comprehensive services to survivors of GBV.
Nyoni applauded the work that Government and stakeholders are doing in establishing One Stop Centres and Safe shelters’in Zimbabwe that have gone a long way in ensuring that survivors get GBV services and they also provide protection services to those at risk of further violence from their partners.
“In addition to these interventions we continue to promote economic empowerment initiatives for women which has proved to be key in preventing GBV, my ministry continues to champion in women economic empowerment through the Women’s Development Fund, Community Development Fund, the
Women’s Bank and the Small to Medium Enterprises Development Corporation all of which provide loans to women’s businesses,” added Nyoni.
She further said that, “as we mark the beginning of the commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism against GBV I want to acknowledge our traditional leaders for leading by example. What I have seen here is a great illustration of leading by example by our traditional leaders and the declaration made by everyone today to protect children and end child marriage is worthy to be applauded.”
Traditional leaders are key influencers in our communities who play a pivotal role in shaping traditional practices.
“Similarly, our religious leaders play a pivotal role in the prevention of GBV and Harmful Practices and it is my humble plea that they also lead by example and prevent GBV in all its forms. It is our collective responsibility for us as a society to be vigilant and expose such criminals that are robbing children of their future and ensure that they are brought before the law. Culture and religion have never tolerated the abuse of children, but there are individuals who hide behind the two and make their own interpretations that provide an opportunity for them to abuse children,” said Nyoni.
Speaking at the same event, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian coordinator Edward Kallon said this global GBV pandemic is deeply rooted in gender inequality and is a human rights violation. Gender-based violence has no social or economic boundaries. It is present in all countries, rich and poor and affects all socio-economic groups.
“It is encouraging that despite all these challenges, the Government of Zimbabwe continues to demonstrate commitment to fight GBV at the highest level of decision making. The UN in collaboration with the European Union, Government and other partners continue to collaborate and invest in uprooting GBV through deliberate measures and Programmes such as the Spotlight Initiative,” said Kallon.
he added that the Spotlight Initiative Programme represents an unprecedented investment into a comprehensive and holistic joint programme on GBV and we are grateful to the European Union for their support in eliminating GBV in Zimbabwe.
“It is important to celebrate our collective achievements and remain resolute to fight GBV together. I am proud to say that Zimbabwe became a pioneer in the Global Spotlight Initiative as the first country that launched and signed a multi-sectoral, high-level compact on the elimination of Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG). The Commitments made in the HLPC continue to elevate gender equality, women’s rights, and women’s empowerment to the political agenda at the highest level of Government,” Kallon said.
The commemorations ran under the theme ‘All Lives Matter! End Gender Based Violence Now’.
Meanwhile, every citizen in Zimbabwe is encouraged to take an active role in preventing GBV and Harmful Practices. Together we can end all forms of GBV and Harmful Practices.