From 16 days to 365 days of activism against GBV

Gender Based Violence (GBV) is one of the most pervasive violations of human rights – denying women security, dignity, self-esteem and their fundamental rights.

In the home, on the streets, at school, in the workplace or in their community, globally up to 70% of women experience physical or sexual violence at some point in their lifetime. As many as a quarter of all pregnant women are affected.

In Zimbabwe, levels of GBV remain a concern. According to the 2011 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS),  1 in 4 women reported that they had experienced sexual violence; and 1 in 3 women aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence since the age 15.

GBV also negatively impacts on the socio-economic development of the country. A recent study by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency shows the aggregate cost of GBV in Zimbabwe in 2009 was estimated at US$2 billion.

To tackle and bring the scourge of GBV into the public domain, the annual awareness raising campaign known as the 16 Days Activism against GBV was launched under a national theme, “From peace in the home to peace in our community” on 24 November 2012 at the Africa Unity Square grounds in Harare. The theme is a reminder that the values that one upholds in the private sphere determine the behaviour in the public space.

In her key note address, the Minister for Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Hon Dr. Olivia Muchena acknowledged the strong partnership with the United Nations Country Team, and said, “The 4Ps (Prevention, Protection, Participation and Programmes) campaign on zero tolerance to GBV and the National GBV Strategy can play a key role in improving our efforts and giving direction to the provision of a multi-sectoral, effective and coordinated response towards ending gender based violence in Zimbabwe”.

UN in Zimbabwe statement read by Ms. Hodan Addou, UN Women Representative commended Zimbabwe for setting policy framework for GBV prevention and response which includes the Domestic Violence Act and for ratifying key international and regional instruments.  Ms. Addou called on the Government to intensify current efforts through domesticating the ratified conventions and protocols in to national laws and enforcing the laws to ensure zero tolerance on GBV.

Within the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF) 2012-2015, a flagship programme on strengthening the multi-sectoral approach to GBV prevention and response is being developed and the UN has been supporting the establishment of GBV survivors’ friendly services.

During the proceedings of the launch, the Minister of Women Affairs introduced Albert Nyathi, a famous Zimbabwean Poet as member of the SADC regional council of artists established to enhance advocacy against GBV. In addition, two UN supported initiatives, Zimbabwe National GBV Strategy (2012-2015) as well as Standard Operating Procedures for Safe Homes for GBV Survivors’ in Zimbabwe were launched. 

The launch, colourfully adorned with banners, t-shirts, inspiring poems, songs, panel debates, prayers as well as statements echoing a rhythmic mantra of “from 16 days to 365 days of activism” brought together over 1000 people from all walks of life.

UNCT Statement and Message of the UN Secretary General