Zimbabwe draws closer to a new GBV prevention strategy

A multi-stakeholder’s workshop attended by over 50 participants from Government ministries in Zimbabwe, civil society organisations (CSOs), independent governmental commissions, the media, United Nations agencies and the SADC Secretariat from Botswana was held in Mutare, southeast of Zimbabwe from 20 to 24 September 2022 to review the national programme on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) prevention and response as part of measures to come up with a revised draft document.

Participants deliberated on the need to bridge the country’s GBV strategy which lapsed in 2015, the 2016-2020 Zero Tolerance 365 National Programme on GBV prevention and response, developed by multiple sector partners, including UN agencies with the draft national document under development.

Development of the National Draft document is being guided by the 2018-2030 SADC Regional Strategy and Framework of Action for addressing GBV, which is a blueprint to tackle GBV in the region, where every two in three women experience some form of GBV, especially in conflict-affected countries. The SADC strategy highlights five thematic areas namely; Prevention of GBV; Protection, Care & Support Services; Capacity Development; Information and Knowledge management, including Best Practices and Innovation and Co-ordination, and Networking and Partnership.

The National Draft document is expected to provide a concise policy compass for stakeholders to ensure an effective, holistic and coordinated approach to prevention, response, and service provision for GBV.

Senior Officer for Public Security Organ in the SADC Secretariat, Ms Kealeboga Moruti, expressed SADC’s readiness and eagerness to continue working with the region in guiding the crafting of policies that effectively combat GBV.

"The responsibility of the SADC Secretariat is to provide member states with enabling policy strategies and guidelines that help to combat and prevent GBV among other threats faced by the region. Some of the blueprints which provide guidelines to effective response to GBV include the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, SADC Protocol on Politics, the Defence and Security Affairs and the SADC Regional Indicative Strategy Development Plan''. Ms Kealeboga Moruti, Senior Officer for Public Security Organ in the SADC Secretariat

The Government of Zimbabwe also welcomes initiatives to revise and update GBV prevention instruments in the country.

''The drafting of a national strategy on GBV programming has come at an opportune time when the nation has other developments giving traction to this process. This includes the development of the High-Level Political Compact that was launched by the President of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Emmerson Mnangangwa, in 2021 to provide a firm grounding from which to develop the draft National strategy on ending GBV and Harmful Practices.''
Mrs. Lilian Matsika Takaendesa, Chief Director for Gender, Policy, Planning and Programme Management

According to the 2016-2020 Zero Tolerance 365 National Programme on GBV Prevention and Response, gender inequality remains persistent with Zimbabwe ranking 63rd out of 142 countries assessed by the Global Gender Gap Report. High prevalence of Gender Based Violence (GBV) is in itself a manifestation of gender inequality and also serves to enforce it. GBV remains and is widely acknowledged to be among the major factors depriving women of their universal rights to enjoy their freedom, security and right to equal opportunities and personal development. Socio-economic factors such as age, level of education, and economic dependence on male counterparts are positively associated with vulnerability and abuse of women. Young women, less educated and unemployed women are more likely to experience abuse and believe that men are justified to exploit them.

Although the problem of GBV is widely acknowledged at all levels, reporting of incidents and utilisation of formal services has remained considerably low by both survivors and “by-standers”.

The UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa was represented at the workshop by Executive Assistant, Madam Fridah Manenji who is both the Deputy Gender focal Point and Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse focal Point person.