The Government of Zimbabwe, the European Union and the United Nations today launched a multi-year Spotlight Initiative to assist women and girls realise their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive Zimbabwe.
Delivering a keynote at the launch, President Mnangagwa in a statement read on his behalf by Hon. Minister Prof. A Murwira said, “violence against women and girls often go unreported and are usually concealed within families. My Government is committed through the Spotlight Initiative to put in place measures that will unmask the challenge and enable policy makers to realise that the issue has negative impact on Gross Domestic Product and national development that needs to be dealt with swiftly.”
The launch was presided over by President of Zimbabwe H.E Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa (represented by Hon. Minister Prof A. Murwira), European External Action Service Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Christian Leffler and Director Ms. Henriette Geiger (People and Peace in the Director General for Development and Cooperation of the European Commission); UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Bishow Parajuli.
The Spotlight Initiative launch also brought together over 200 senior delegates including government Ministers, Members of Parliament, European Union, United Nations, members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Zimbabwe, Civil Society, private sector, academia and the media.
Underscoring the commitment of the Government of Zimbabwe to address national issues in a comprehensive manner, Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Hon. Dr. Sithembiso Nyoni said, “no-one shall be left behind as we boldly march towards realizing our national vision 2030. It will be foolhardy to believe that vision 2030 will be realised without embracing the elimination of violence against women and girls as one of the key national development priorities.”
The Spotlight Initiative with a financial commitment of Euros 500 million by European Union is a global joint United Nations and European Union initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in all continents. Africa will receive Euro 250 million, half of the global amount for eight countries including Zimbabwe plus an African Regional programme.
European External Action Service Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Christian Leffler said, “Gender-based violence is not inevitable – it is literally man-made. The solution lies with the strong cooperation of all of us, international actors, government, CSO, local authorities and citizens.“
The European Union has committed USD 34 million for the Spotlight Initiative country programme in Zimbabwe, which will be implemented by UN in partnership with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development and civil society organisations.
The Spotlight Initiative will ensure that all women and girls benefit from adequate legislation and policies, gender responsive institutions, violence prevention programmes, essential services, comparable and reliable data, and strong women’s movements and civil society organisations.
Noting that the Spotlight Initiative in Zimbabwe builds on global efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, focusing on gender equality as well as health and wellbeing, UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Bishow Parajuli said: “the Initiative tackles head-on sexual gender based violence by paving the way for women and girls to have a “voice”, “choice” and “control” over their lives, particularly their ability to make decisions, pursue education, provide for themselves and their families and actively participate in their community.”
The Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative country programme targets directly and indirectly 11 million beneficiaries particularly rural women and girls, women and girls living with disabilities, and women living with HIV.
Sixty percent (60%) of the Spotlight Initiative country programme intervention will be implemented at community level in 23 districts in five provinces. The five provinces are: Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Manicaland, Matabeleland South, and Harare.
Gender-based violence is a serious concern in Zimbabwe as it is in the rest of the world. At least 1 in every 3 women (15 – 49) have experienced physical violence (35%) while 1 in every 5 women (17%) have experienced sexual violence. In most cases, perpetrators are the intimate partners.
Other harmful practices such as child and early and forced marriages, which constitute a serious violation of the sexual, reproductive and health rights of women and girls in Zimbabwe, leading to higher rates of early pregnancy and increased risks of exposure to HIV/AIDS and high level of maternal mortality.
Gender-based violence is a well-documented human rights violation, a public health challenge, and a barrier to civic, social, political, and economic participation. It undermines the safety, dignity, and overall health status, social and economic wellbeing of the individuals who experience it.