From Emmanuel Banda in New York, USA
Zambia committed to implementing UN agreements
New York, March 7, 2013—–The Zambian government has reaffirmed its commitment to the full and effective implementation and acceleration of measures contained in the international agreements on gender and development to which it is a party.
Gender and Development Minister Inonge Wina has cited agreements such as the Beijing declaration and platform for action, the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls, and the millennium development goals (MDGs).
Mrs Wina says it is for this reason that Zambia has taken positive measures in eliminating and preventing all forms of violence against women and girls.
Ms Wina said this in a speech read on her behalf by permanent secretary in the ministry of lands, natural resources and environmental protection, Daisy Ng’ambi at the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women which opened yesterday at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Ms Wina said critical to ensuring the protection, promotion and upholding of the rights of women and girls is the on-going review processes of the Republican Constitution and the Gender Policy.
She told the session that the current draft Constitution has removed the infamous discriminatory Article 23 which allowed discrimination in matters of personal law, adding that the draft Constitution provides for the establishment of the Gender Equity Commission.
Ms Wina said with other progressive provisions contained in the draft, once fully adopted, the Constitution will contribute greatly to the elimination of violence against women and girls thereby ensuring the attainment of gender equality and equity.
“The Draft Constitution on the other hand provides guidance to all sector policies in ensuring the elimination of all forms of discrimination and imbalances faced by women and girls,” she said.
The Gender Minister further said that the Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act in 2011 is another milestone that Zambia has scored, saying the Act, which provides for preventive and protective measures, establishment of shelters for survivors of Gender Based violence, and the monitoring and coordinating committee is already being implemented.
Ms Wina said to accelerate the implementation of the said outlined measures, government, in collaboration with co-operating partners, has been providing dedicated funds to facilitate the promotion and protection of women’s and girls’ rights, thus contributing to the reduction of gender based violence.
She added that government, in collaboration with various developmental partners including the civil society organizations has made tremendous efforts in providing preventive mechanisms and multi-sectoral responses to eliminate violence against women and girls.
“Awareness raising programmes to the general public are on-going to ensure attainment of zero tolerance to gender based violence,” she emphasized.
Ms Wina cited such programmes as community mobilization, engagement of men as change agents, involvement and sensitization of religious and traditional leaders, including local councils and traditional leaders.
She, however, revealed that a number of challenges have been encountered in the elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls, including limitation of reliable data, inadequate human resources and capacity to manage cases of gender based violence.
The Minister said other challenges include legal and judiciary constraints which delay disposal of cases, inadequate safe houses to provide temporary shelters and limited facilities like forensic equipment.
The 57th session of the commission on the status of women will provide the necessary guidance and direction to further promote gender equity, equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in relation to the priority theme, dubbed “Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls.