from MARCUS MUSHONGA in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE has won a global award for efforts to end violence against women.
For its Spotlight Initiative, the country won the Fortitude Award at the recent Global Learning Symposium in Cancún, Mexico.
According to a citation The Fortitude Award recognises unforeseen and unpredictable circumstances that Spotlight Initiative faced, the resolve, determination, and resilience demonstrated to ensure that eliminating violence against women and girls work continued regardless.
Spotlight Initiative was implemented at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country was already grappling with the aftermath shock of Cyclone Idai and socio-economic issues.
The Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative Country programme has recorded significant gains.
Of note is the High-Level Political Compact (HLPC) on Gender Based Violence which was signed by President Emmerson Mnagagwa in October 2021.
It demonstrates a high-level political commitment to end violence against women and girls as well as harmful practices, including child marriages.
The government has put in place laws and policies that protect women and girls from violence and abuse.
The Child Marriage Act was passed while the Constitutional Court ruled to raise the legal age of sexual consent from 16 to 18 years in May 2022.
This is poised to protect girls from the brunt of child marriages resulting from harmful religious, social and cultural practices.
To date the Zimbabwe Spotlight Initiative programme has reached over 5 million beneficiaries, exceeding the targeted 2 million.
Headman Shiku of Runde Rural District is among gender champions who have been engaged through the Spotlight Initiative.
“It pains us to see young girls being married off at a tender age,” the traditional leader said.
“Girls should reach the legal age of consent of 18 years and must their freewill to get married,” Headman Shiku said.
– CAJ News