Deputy Minister of Gender and Child Development Esther Banda has described gender based violence (GBV) as the single worst violation of human rights in Zambia and the entire Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Mrs. Banda observed that GBV cases were already very high in Zambia while many of them were still unrecorded and unnoticed.
She said GBV undermines the ability of women and girls to claim and exercise their fundamental basic rights as citizens.
The deputy minister was speaking in Lusaka today when she officiated at the five day national GBV indicator survey training workshop in Lusaka.
The workshop, which is organised by her ministry in conjunction with Gender Links and UNICEF, has attracted participants from all the 10 provinces of Zambia.
The participants are being trained as enumerators and research officers on GBV related issues.
Mrs. Banda disclosed that to address the problem of GBV, government has developed a 2010 – 2014 national plan of action on GBV alongside with the anti-GBV Act number 1 of 2011.
She said these two measures will help deal with the perpetrators of the vice as Zambia was a signatory to the SADC protocol on gender which was adopted in 2008.
She stressed that the GBV national baseline survey would help to strengthen, monitor and evaluate the framework of the plan by capacity building community, the church and government leaders, politicians, women, men, boys and girls.
The GBV indicators survey is part of a southern Africa wide initiative to establish the true picture of gender violence.
Mrs. Banda said the survey will help monitor progress towards achieving the SADC gender protocol target of halving gender violence by 2015.
She commended UNICEF for the financial support rendered towards this important exercise and encouraged Gender Links to work closely with her ministry to develop strategies that would help implement the plan.
And UNICEF Country Representative Hamid Bashir bemoaned the fact that there were few convictions of the many cases reported to the police and other law enforcement agencies.
Dr. Bashir said in a speech read for him by UNHCR country representative Laura Lo-Castro that this was so because GBV was deeply rooted in societal altitudes that view women as second class citizens instead of partners in development.
He has since challenged women and girls in the country to play their rightful role in decision making positions by voicing out the vices attached to GBV.