30 November 2017, Harare – The Governments of the Sweden and Ireland today signed an agreement of cooperation with the United Nations committing US$4.7 million to support a Joint Programme on Zero Tolerance to Gender Based Violence (GBV) 365 in Zimbabwe.
Thanking the Governments of Sweden and Ireland for their continued commitment and generous contributions in advancing gender equality and ending gender based violence, Mr Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident Coordinator said, “unless we address gender equality and end gender based violence in all its forms and manifestations, it will be difficult to achieve the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and its other 16 goals.” “Under the aegis of Delivering as One, the United Nations together with partners is committed to advance integrated programmes of women and girls’ empowerment in social, political and economic spheres as well as protection of their rights zealously to pave the way to ending the sexual and gender based violence and achieve gender equality in Zimbabwe.”
Recognizing the rights based and strong national constitution of Zimbabwe and independent institutions such as the gender, human rights, election, media and peace commissions, the UN Resident Coordinator said, “there is need for more partners to join hands with resource and relevant national and local institutions to religiously enforce the laws and norms against GBV in the schools, the police, the courts and care and counselling services.” “And it is when these institutions work together to address gender based violence and work towards gender parity that one can break its vicious cycle.”
The Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey for 2015 confirms that violence against women and girls remains a huge problem with at least 1 in every 3 women aged 15-49 having experienced physical violence since the age of 15 and 27% percent of women in the same age group have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.
The support from the Governments of Ireland and Sweden is expected to contribute significantly to the prevention and response to Gender Based Violence, particularly in:
- Changing harmful norms, attitudes and practices related to GBV;
- Providing integrated, and survivor centered multi-sectoral services; including quality clinical care for survivors of Sexual violence;
- Strengthening multi-sectoral coordination;
- Strengthening knowledge management and monitoring and evaluation; and
- Delivering life-saving GBV services in emergency settings.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, His Excellency Liam MacGabhann, Ambassador of Ireland to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo said, “Ireland recognises the devastating consequences of GBV for all in the society. As a result, a significant part of the Embassy’s Five-Year Strategy focuses on combating GBV, working together with CSO and Government partners. We are happy today to be able to be able to provide support to the Joint Programme on GBV and welcome its multi-sectorial approach.”
Gender based Violence in its many forms has devastating consequences on the physical and mental health of victims. Where sexual violence or rape is concerned, particularly, it results in physical trauma and injury, infection with Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies. Apart from physiological damage, abuse causes emotional trauma to victims which can last for a lifetime if not adequately treated. Men must unite and stand up to defend women and children against abuse and end GBV.
The support from Governments of Sweden and Ireland comes five days after launch of a National Programme on Zero Tolerance for GBV 365. This programme provides the roadmap for addressing GBV in Zimbabwe and calls for a multi-sectoral approach to the challenge. It sets out comprehensive interventions to prevent GBV and to respond to it when it does take place.
“Sweden appreciate the comprehensive multi-sectoral approach of this program, bringing various vital actors together, such as Health workers, police, and officials from legal and governmental sectors, as well as the civil society. The problem of GBV is so large, that all of us need to unite to end domestic violence and bring justice to victims of GBV,” said the Ambassador of Sweden, Her Excellency Sofia Calltorp while signing the Joint Programme.
The United Nations and its implementing partners have been working on a wide range of interventions to reduce and respond to cases of GBV. These include ensuring access to medical treatment for survivors, provision of temporary safe shelter for survivors and their families, psychosocial support and legal aid.
Various centres, known as One Stop Centres that provide medical, legal and psychosocial services to survivors at no cost under one roof have been set up in provinces such as Matabeleland South Midlands, Manicaland and Harare.
"Gender Based Violence is complex; manifesting itself in different ways and therefore in implementing this joint Programme, the Government will continue to prioritise multi-sectoral and coordinated approaches to effectively address the scourge. Upholding survivor centered interventions and human rights based approaches will also be at the heart of our GBV interventions," said permanent secretary for Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Mrs S. Zembe.
The latest contribution from Ireland and Sweden will support efforts to end GBV and ensure many more women and girls are reached with essential services. Sweden and Ireland have provided long standing support to the UN family to support efforts against GBV in Zimbabwe.