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National 16 Days of Activism against GBV launched amid concerns of increased cases in Zimbabwe: Calls made for resources’ mobilisation to deal with scourge

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By Anna Chibamu


THE National 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) was on Sunday launched amid calls for advocacy to mobilize more national budgets for investments in preventing violence against women and girls.

The launch in Hauna, Manicaland province sadly came as concerns of continued increased gender-based violence (GBV) in Zimbabwe grew over the years with several issues, including poverty and disease outbreak fueling it.

Edward Kallon, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Zimbabwe in a statement urged governments to allocate more resources to prevention services for gender-based violence to reduce the tremendous health, legal, and productivity costs that countries continue to bear due to the scourge.

“I am honoured to join you today for the national launch of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. This year’s campaign carries the theme “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls,” urging governments and stakeholders worldwide to invest in preventing gender-based violence.

“Urgent financial support is necessary to tackle these issues, strengthening international cooperation, monitoring budget allocations, implementing gender-responsive budgeting, and providing resources to women’s rights organizations’ are crucial for lasting, transformative changes for women and girls.

Kallon highlighted that as the theme of the 16 days aptly emphasized, financing or investment was a critical element in achieving gender equality (SDG5) and the rest of the SDGs.

“A substantial increase in finance flows is necessary.

“This entails engaging international financial institutions, multilateral development banks, the private sector, remittances, philanthropic foundations, and other sources.

“By embracing an integrated approach, harnessing technology, and innovation, mobilizing financing, and strengthening collaboration and coordination, we can pave the way for gender equality,” said the UN Coordinator.

According to him, it was sad to note that violence against women and girls remained a widespread human rights violation despite the existence of laws to combat such violence, enforcement challenges and discriminatory social norms continue to persist.

“Startling statistics reveal that approximately one in three women and girls experience gender-based violence, inhibiting their potential and contribution to their countries’ development.

“It is time we acknowledge that any form of violence against women and girls is a stain on our humanity and hampers peace, security, and sustainable development. Let us unite to combat all forms of violence and address their underlying causes.

“In Zimbabwe, for instance, the 2019 Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey reported that 39.4% of women aged 15-49 experience physical violence at least once in their lifetime, while 11.6% experience sexual violence while one in three women between the ages of 20-49 were reportedly married before they turned 18,”  Kallon stated.

Kallon explained that the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, conflicts, and climate change had further exacerbated violence against women and girls, intensifying existing challenges and introducing new disheartening threats, urging support of women’s organisations.

“We must support them and also create an enabling environment for them to flourish.

“We must also be conscious when promulgating new laws, that we don’t inadvertently encumber the progress of grassroots women organisations and movements.,” said Kallon.

The UN commended government on its successful collaboration under the United Nations Spotlight Initiative to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls, which is funded by the European Union (EU).

The Spotlight Initiative has made significant investments in prevention efforts, reaching over two million people through campaigns, and directly engaging 50,000 individuals in five provinces through increased advocacy by gender champions and implementing partners.

“We especially applaud the High-Level Political Compact (HLPC) on Ending Gender-based Violence and Harmful Practices in Zimbabwe, signed by His Excellency President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

“This commitment demonstrates a bold dedication to sustained political commitment and engagement at the highest level in the fight against violence targeting women, girls, and harmful practices,” Kallon told stakeholders.”

He however warned that failure to curb GBV and inadequate support and empowering of women and girls led to a lack of development.

“Some countries estimate that gender-based violence incurs an economic impact of about 3.7% of GDP, yet investment in addressing this issue remains as low as 0.2% of overall aid in 2022. Such a significant cost cannot be ignored.”

“We currently face formidable challenges, with only about 15% of SDGs targets on track and significant gaps persisting in various areas.

“Policymakers must adopt an integrated approach that recognizes the interconnected nature of the SDGs. We need to navigate the synergies and trade-offs between different goals and take a holistic view of development.”

He committed the entire UN system in Zimbabwe to work with diverse stakeholders to support the Women and Gender Minister Monica Mutsvangwa in her effort to accelerate progress on gender equality at all levels and end violence against women and girls.

“The UN Country Team in Zimbabwe, along with our various entities coordinated by my office and technically led by UN Women, will focus on supporting the Government of Zimbabwe and your Ministry in four key actions: driving shifts in policy and regulatory frameworks, facilitating the development of bankable projects, attracting financing from various sources, and providing capacity.”