Statement by the First Lady Her Excellency Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in commemorating 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
This is a period where we dedicate time to reflect on the effects of gender-based violence as it continues to ravage our families, communities and the nation at large.
It is a period for re-commitment, renewal of our energies, amplifying our voices and offering reinvigorated impetus to our collective effort in fighting this scourge.
Gender-based violence is a global scourge that undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence.
The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating it in all its forms from domestic violence to sexual abuse, online harassment and increased child marriage.
Restrictions put in place in the whole world to contain the spread of the virus saw incidences of violence increasing because women and girls were forced to stay at home and in some cases with their abusers.
This year Zimbabwe, with the rest of the world is commemorating 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence under the theme “End gender-based violence: Fund, respond, prevent, collect.”
Our country has put in place a very progressive legal and policy framework on addressing gender based violence and harmful practices and has also acceded to a number of regional and international protocols that seek to protect women and girls from violence.
Further, key institutions have also been put in place to address various forms of Gender-Based Violence and these include the anti-domestic violence council, the victim friendly unit, and the Zimbabwe gender commission.
Despite having all these in place, the country is still grappling with high levels of Gender Based Violence and harmful practices.
The multiple indicator cluster survey (2019) reports that 49,4 percent of women aged between 15 and 49 years have experienced emotional, physical or sexual violence at some point in time.
Such high figures require our collective attention as we mark the 16 days of activism and make declarations to end this scourge.
The adoption of the multi-sectoral approach to address gbv has seen victim friendly institutions being established whose mandates are to ensure that survivors of gender based violence have access to services in a confidential and dignified way.
The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development has established a number of one stop centres across the country to offer comprehensive gbv services and in partnership with csos and other ngo have set up safe shelters where women survivors of gender based violence are provided with temporary shelter.
This kind of collaboration is greatly applauded.
Despite all these efforts, gbv still remains a menace in our country.
I therefore make an appeal to the Government to ensure that resources towards gbv response are increased and innovative action is taken to protect women and girls.
A new thinking is required to address the challenge of Gender-Based Violence.
There is need to raise our voices in condemnation of Gender-Based Violence incidences and to question attitudes, harmful practices and approaches that continue to fuel Gender Based Violence.
The fight against Gender-Based Violence cannot be won by women alone, men need to come on board and become actively involved in the fight against Gender-Based Violence.
Together, let us redouble our efforts to end Gender-Based Violence during Covid-19 and beyond bearing in mind that women’s rights and freedoms are essential to strong, resilient societies.
We can and we must prevent violence everywhere, in both public and private spaces. Our voices should be heard everywhere so that we do not leave any one behind in line with the sustainable development goals.