Spotlight initiative boosts fight against gender based violence

Spotlight initiative boosts fight against gender based violence
May 10 21:08 2018

The elimination of violence against women and girls is not only central to achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, but is also a pre-condition and driver for the achievement of the entire Sustainable Development goals. This was said by the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Bishow Parajuli opening a two-day multi-stakeholder consultation held to develop Zimbabwe’s Spotlight Country Programme in Harare, recently.

Spotlight is a European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) multi-million-euro global initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It fully integrates the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ in responding to all forms of violence against women and girls. Spotlight focuses on domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence, harmful practices, human trafficking and economic exploitation.

“The UN in Zimbabwe, with great support from development partners, has been supporting laws, policies and programmes addressing violence against women and girls such as the Joint Programme on Zero Tolerance to Gender-based Violence 365, capacitating the Gender Commission and Anti-Domestic Violence Council. The Spotlight Initiative presents an incredible opportunity to build upon our existing efforts and eliminate this scourge once and for all,” said the UN Resident Coordinator.

Latest surveys in Zimbabwe show the issue of violence against women and girls is endemic with one in every three women aged 15-49 having experienced physical violence since the age of 15 in Zimbabwe. In addition, 27% of women in the same age group have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. Harmful practices are also perpetuating with a child marriage prevalence rate of 32% in the country and one in every 10 adolescent girls giving birth every year.

Speaking at the same event, EU head of delegation and Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Philippe Van Damme said the EU has allocated EUR500 million for the Spotlight initiative to end violence against women and girls. Zimbabwe is among eight countries in Africa and only 22 in the whole world selected to benefit from the initiative

Stakeholders and actors from across Zimbabwe representing over 50 institutions, including government led by the Office of the President and Cabinet and Ministry of Women Affairs; the UN entities; development partners; women’s movements; youth organizations; association of people with disability; other national and international non-government organizations; and the private sector came together at the consultation to inform the national country programme. Stakeholders deliberated the issue of violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe along the six key pillars of the initiative. The six pillars are: gender responsive laws and policies; gender-based violence protection and services; improved collection and use of data; and innovation as well as strengthening government institutions and women’s movements.

After two days of consultations, the draft country programme was presented to the Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Hon. Sithembiso Nyoni who fully endorsed the programme and committed government support, stating the six key pillars gave a good “balance to the equation in our joint efforts to elimination violence against women and girls in Zimbabwe.”

The European Union’s Head of Cooperation, Ms. Irene Giribaldi also endorsed the country programme outline and commended the efforts of stakeholders. Ms. Delphine Serumaga, UN Women Country Representative said, this initiative shows a serious investment in eliminating violence against women and girls in this country that has not been seen before. She urged participants to illuminate this issue with renewed and focused investment and commitment.

Key stakeholders who attended the event include, Zimbabwe Gender Commission Chairperson, Mrs. Margaret Mukahanana Sangarwe; Embassy of Sweden’s First Secretary, Angelica Broman; Ms. Netty Mushanu the Director of Musasa Project; and Ms.  Emelda Vhiriri representing Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe and National Association of Youth Organisations.