Today, I am delighted to represent a partnership of the international community standing in solidarity with the Government of the Republic of Zambia in condemning all forms of violence, recognising the overwhelming burden of violence against women and girls, and reaffirming our commitment to ending violence.
Each year between November 25th and December 10th, governments, international organisations, civil society and other NGOs commemorate the 16 days of Activism to raise public awareness about the harms of Gender Based Violence and reinvigorate efforts to end violence.
We are all aware that Gender Based Violence is a huge global problem, one that is very much an issue here in Zambia. For instance, in Zambia 43% of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence, 17% have experienced sexual violence, and 10% of women have experienced violence during pregnancy. This violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men. This is not only a violation of fundamental rights, but it also slows Zambia’s development.
We congratulate the Government of the Republic of Zambia on progress made in creating a fairer and more equal society for all. This includes the establishment and launch of fast track courts to deal with cases of Gender Based Violence, the first of their kind in Africa. These courts were created through the revised Anti-GBV Act, and were complemented by efforts to reform the rules of court and the training of police officers, magistrates, politicians, doctors, nurses and traditional leaders on what Gender Based Violence is, how to respond to it, and most importantly how to stop it.
These achievements should be celebrated, but we also have to acknowledge the scale of the challenge we are facing. We are here visiting the Lifeline-Childline Gender Based Violence Call Centre, which is an essential service offering counselling and guidance to children and adults needing information, advice, referral and support. It is important that all Zambians know that help is only a phone call away – by calling 116 Childline or 933 GBV at any time, day or night, free of charge.
When women live in fear of violence, when girls are married too young and taken out of school, all of society suffers. On the other hand, when we achieve the vision of girls completing their education, and women fully participating in economic life free from violence, there is greater productivity, economies grow and societies flourish.
As members of the international community we stand ready to support Zambia in making that vision a reality for all survivors of Gender Based Violence, women and girls or men and boys. Members of the Co-operating Partners Group on Gender Equality, many of whom are represented here today, are committed to supporting action in this area:
For example, the UK, working together with USAID, have partnered to support the Zambian Government in the Stamping Out and Preventing Gender Based Violence project which started in 2012 and will end in 2018. This programme addresses Gender Based Violence through a comprehensive approach at three levels: Prevention and Advocacy; Access to Justice and Survivor Support. Through this programme we support survivors of violence to receive immediate medical aid, paralegal services, psycho-social counselling, and legal investigation services. Since the beginning of the project, almost 50,000 survivors have accessed post-Gender Based Violence care at the supported centres.
At the same time, we are working with traditional leaders to change some of the negative traditional norms and beliefs that can perpetuate violence, and supporting vital services like the Lifeline/Childline call centre.
In addition to these efforts, the US government has supported the Ministry of Gender in its efforts to implement the “He For She” campaign through a Boys to Men Project.
The European Union Delegation puts gender equality – including the fight against gender-based violence - at the heart of its human rights and development priorities in Zambia. It has just completed the first year of four new projects helping women to get access to justice. One of these is with Women and Law in Southern Africa, which over three years will help 6,500 women and survivors in Eastern and Western provinces. Also, PLEED, their national access to justice programme, co-funded with Germany, is already improving women’s access to paralegals and soon will be also supporting Police Victims Support Units to improve the quality of Gender Based Violence investigating and reporting. Lastly, the EU will step up its ambition on tackling violence against women and supporting Gender Based Violence survivors through a large new programme to be launched in 2017.
The UN system implements the Government of the Republic of Zambia/UN Joint Programme which aims to support the Government to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, with particular focus on the recommendations on violence against women, and to support institutional transformation to facilitate the implementation of the Anti- Gender Based Violence Act 2011 of Zambia. This programme is supported by the Swedish and Irish Governments, and it is through this programme that the Gender Based Violence and Childline centre is also being funded.
The UN joint team has supported a 24/7 multilingual telecommunication and outreach service accessible to Gender Based Violence survivors and children. The Referral Directory for service providers has been a great achievement as it has made it easy for survivors to access available services.
The support to the UN joint programme, is in line with the Swedish Government’s Feminist Foreign Policy which encapsulates Sweden’s efforts to help achieve concrete results that enhance both gender equality and the full enjoyment of human rights by all women and girls. Sweden also supports numerous civil society organisations contributing to the reduction of Gender Based Violence through the Zambian Governance Foundation. Through Sweden’s support to the National Legal Aid Clinic for Women, more women and children are accessing justice including for Gender Based Violence.
Represented here is also the Government of Ireland who recognise that one of the key elements of reducing vulnerability is through the promotion of gender equality in all aid programmes. In addition to supporting the UN Joint Programme, Ireland has also been supporting the Campaign for Female Education to address issues of abuse against girls in schools.
The Finnish Government has continued to support the rights of girls and women and promotes gender equality mainstreaming in all development policies. Finland strives to promote women and girls to have better opportunities to influence political decision-making and participate in economic activity and to reduce the number of them that fall victims of violence and abuse.
As the UK government, we put women and girls at the heart of our development assistance, supporting efforts to end child marriage; empowering adolescent girls; giving women voice, choice and control over their sexual and reproductive health and rights; preventing Gender Based Violence at the community level and strengthening the support systems that ensure survivors of violence are treated with dignity and respect and have access to the justice they deserve.
It is only through these continuous partnerships - among co-operating partners, with the Government of the Republic of Zambia and with civil society, including Lifeline/Childline Zambia, that complex problems such as Gender Based Violence can be comprehensively addressed.
I therefore call upon the President of the Republic of Zambia and his new government to take the lead in ending Gender Based Violence by encouraging all his Ministers and MPs to start talking about Gender Based Violence at every forum; starting with their homes, their constituencies and Zambian society at large.
It is only through this collective action and partnership that we can challenge practices that limit women and girls, men and boys’ development, and amplify the voices of all those who want to see a brighter future for Zambia.
Statement issued by H.E. Fergus Cochrane - Dyet, British High Commissioner, on behalf of:
H.E. Alessandro Mariani, Ambassador of the European Union
H.E. Timo Olkkonen, Ambassador of Finland
H.E. Séamus O’Grady, Ambassador of Ireland
H.E. Henrik Cederin, Ambassador of Sweden
H.E. Eric Schultz, Ambassador of the United States of America
Janet Rogan, United Nations Resident Coordinator
The Co-operating Partner (CP) Gender Group consists of representatives from the Embassies of Finland, Ireland, Sweden, the UK, USA, the European Union Delegation to Zambia and the United Nations Development Programme.
The CP Gender group coordinates and harmonises their support around response to a number of gender inequalities, focusing on four priorities of: Gender Based Violence; women’s economic empowerment; gender responsive budgeting and planning; and women’s leadership and decision making.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence begin on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25) and will end on International Human Rights Day (December 10).
The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was designated in 1999 by the United Nations General Assembly. The date was chosen to commemorate the lives of the Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic who were violently assassinated in 1960. The day pays tribute to them, as well as urging global recognition of gender violence. Each year on this day, governments, international organizations and NGOs are invited to organise activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem.
LifeLine/Childline Zambia was established in 2003 with the sole objective of providing telephone counselling and guidance services to distressed and abused persons in need of care and protection. This telephone counselling is done through toll free numbers 116 and 933 which are ChildLine and Gender Based Violence helplines respectively. The helplines were established with support from the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Information and Communications Technology regulators the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority. The service is provided countrywide, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The services provided include GBV and other social issues, psychosocial counselling for both adult and children and follow up and referral services for other services.
Alfred Kapalayi on +260 211 423200 or email: Alfred.Kapalayi@fco.gov.uk