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Act on gender equality and human rights issues – UN to Zimbabwe

By Dylan Murambgi

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, His Excellency Edward Kallon has implored the government of Zimbabwe to urgently act on gender equality and human rights issues if the Vision 2030 target is set to see the light of the day.

He was speaking at the occasion to mark the end of the Spotlight Initiative Wednesday where he underscored the need for authorities to address the fundamental rights.

“If we are to create an enabling environment for a peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe in line with the national Vision 2030 to become a Medium-Income Country, we must focus more concertedly on closing the gender inequalities gaps and on addressing the human rights violations that women and girls face daily and throughout their lives,” he said.

The top diplomat said Zimbabwe can no longer “half-step or tiptoe” around a fundamental development and human rights issue.

He said gender equality is a fundamental right, but often in our programming and work, we lessen the importance of this human right by referring to it as ‘gender issues’ or we hear reference to gender-based violence as a ‘soft’ social issue.

“Startling statistics reveal that approximately one in three women and girls experience gender-based violence, inhibiting their potential and contribution to their countries’ development.

“In Zimbabwe, for instance, the 2019 Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey reported that 39.4% of women aged 15-49 experience physical violence at least once in their lifetime, while 11.6% experience sexual violence,” said Kallon.

Additionally, Kallon said, one in three women between the ages of 20-49 in the country was married before they turned 18. Globally, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UN Women has reported that over five women or girls are killed every hour by a family member.

The UN chief said the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, and climate change have further exacerbated violence against women and girls, intensifying existing challenges and introducing new threats. This setback is disheartening.

Kallon said the just ended Spotlight Initiative to Eliminate Violence against Women and Girls has been one such example of a dedicated, comprehensive model approach for addressing an issue of gender inequality.

“The unique comprehensive approach and holistic model to eliminate violence against women and girls addressed the issue on multiple fronts: education, reproductive health, economic empowerment, strengthening institutions, tackling systemic and cultural barriers, strengthening, and closing gaps in laws and policies, creating Standard Operating Procedures, and strengthening the capacity of service providers, among others,” he added.

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