Launch of Plan International Zimbabwe’s Country Strategy 2019 – 2024, Keynote Address by Ms. Maria Ribeiro, UN Resident Coordinator, 23 January 2020

I would like to commend Plan International for having created this space and occasion where we could audiences of some very articulate, strong, young Zimbabwean girls and boys.

I hope that together we can create more occasions where we not only listen, but also challenge each other because it is about partnerships between generations, partnerships between women, civil society organizations, NGOs, UN and donors in how we can make Zimbabwe the Zimbabwe we all need.

I would like thank Dr. Angela and her team for inviting me to join on the launch of Plan International Zimbabwe’s Country Strategy for 2019-2024. I would like to congratulate Plan International and its partners for the successful development of the Strategy.

I believe this milestone will allow Plan International Zimbabwe and its partners to reflect on key achievements of the previous strategy and to project what lies ahead as we launch the new strategy today.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is sad to note that globally one in five girls are denied an education by the daily realities of poverty, violence and discrimination. Every day, girls are taken out of school, married far too young, and subjected to violence. This is a violation of their rights, and a huge waste of potential with serious consequences. Yet, we know that investing in girls has the potential to transform the lives of entire communities and countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The challenge on child protection particularly that of the girl child in Zimbabwe is no different from the global challenges.

  • According to the latest National Adolescent Fertility Study, almost a quarter of adolescent girls aged 15-19 years (24%) have started childbearing with rural adolescent girls aged 15-19 are more likely to become pregnant (143 births per 1,000 adolescent girls aged 15-19) compared to their urban counterparts (75 births).

  • Violence against children remains a challenge in Zimbabwe. In 2018, Childline received a total of 25,000 cases (15,000 through the helpline and 10,000 through drop in). Of these cases 66% were on protection while 34% were on welfare (Childline 2018 Annual Report). Sexual abuse accounted for 26%, physical abuse 20%, neglect 17%, emotional abuse 17% and 20% other forms of abuse.

These are the realities that we are all facing here in Zimbabwe. Yet, there is hope because the world has committed to the Sustainable Development Goals. These cannot be realized unless the situation of girls and children and youth are addressed because you cannot leave out (as in many countries) over 60% of the population.

These challenges call for interaction, strong partnerships and innovative solutions. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has been given a new vigour with the launch of the Decade of Action on SDGs. Let us make the next 10 years a decisive decade for Zimbabwe, for Africa, and for the world, and most of all, for young girls and young boys so that they can be empowered adults.

The Decade of Action on SDGs was launched by the UN Secretary General in New York yesterday with a focus on “Mobilisation, Ambition and Solutions”. So, let us be ambitious, let us mobilize everybody, and let us find good, innovative solutions to today’s problems.

Let me finish by reiterating to the young people here present and in Zimbabwe as a whole of the United Nations’ commitment to making a reality of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; of working with you so that you can be empowered to reach your potential and your aspirations as well.

Let me also reiterate to Plan International our support and our appreciation not just to the work that you are doing here in Zimbabwe and in other countries, but our appreciation of the partnership, which has always existed between your organization and various UN agencies. The United Nations Development System and relevant UN Agencies will continue to partner with Plan International and other partners to deliver for children and particularly for girls.

Congratulations! I wish you success in the implementation of the Plan International Zimbabwe Country Strategy 2019-2024.

I thank you.