The MenEngage Zambia Alliance joins the rest of the world in celebrating the 2018 International Women’s Day under the theme: Time Is Now: Rural and Urban activists transforming women’s lives.
The Alliance members stand in solidarity with the nation as we acknowledge the role played by many rural and urban activists in transforming women’s lives. We salute the many gallant women, men, boys and girls who have stood up to confront the negative gender norms, cultures, attitudes and practices that have contributed to hindering the attainment of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The Alliance notes that vices such as gender based violence and child marriage continue to be highly prevalent in Zambia. In 2017, the Zambia Police Victim Support Unit recorded 21,504 cases compared to 18,540 cases in 2016 showing an increase of 16%with the majority affected being women and children. In the same vein, the National child marriage prevalence rate is also high at 31% with the prevalence among girls being higher at 17% compared to boys at 1%. According to UNAIDS, an estimated 1.2 million people are living with HIV in Zambia with the larger number of those affected being female. If this trend continues, attainment of gender equality will continue to elude the country.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is therefore a challenge to all of us to take an active role, as activists, in redressing the unequal power relations between men and women which perpetuate the cycle of gender inequalities and hinder women’s empowerment. This day also provides an opportunity to reflect on what strategies we should employ to redress the high prevalence of gender inequalities in Zambia, especially those affecting women and children. Concerted efforts by all stakeholders are required to build on the gains that the country has made in addressing the prevailing gender inequalities. Some of the notable achievements include the enactment of the anti-GBV Act No. 1 of 2011 and the Gender Equity and Equality Act of 2015, establishment of GBV Fast Track Courts and One Stop Centers and prohibition of discriminatory, cultural and religious practices in the communities and intensified programmes encouraging everyone to know their HIV status as an entry point to therapy.
As the nation continues to work towards the attainment of targets on gender, we implore that government implements laws and policies promoting gender equality. Of particular interest is the activation of the Gender Commission which will facilitate the mainstreaming of gender as provided for the Gender Equity and Equality Act.
We wish all the women of Zambia and the world a happy International Women’s Day.
Patricia Mphanza Ndhlovu
Executive Director – YWCA
MenEngage Zambia Network Chairperson