Remarks by USAID/Zambia Mission Director Advocating Against GBV to Zambian Parliament

Thursday, May 5, 2016
Subject 
Gender Based Violence
A photo of USAID/Zambia Mission Director Dr. Michael Yates addressing the Zambian Parliament advocating against GBV.
A photo of USAID/Zambia Mission Director Dr. Michael Yates addressing the Zambian Parliament advocating against GBV.

Good morning, I am honored to be here today representing the United States Agency for International Development, better known as USAID. I bring you greetings from the United States Ambassador to Zambia, Mr. Eric Schultz. I am delighted to join the Minister of Gender, Honorable Professor Nkandu Luo, all other ministers and members of parliament at this timely event to encourage a cohesive national response to prevent Gender-Based Violence and Child Marriage.  We see this as an important forum for sharing ideas about how we can most effectively work together and leverage our unique roles in meeting this common goal.

First and foremost, I would like to thank the coordinators of today’s event, the Speaker and the Clerk of the National Assembly, for granting the Zambia Centre for Communication Programmes, better known as ZCCP, the opportunity to engage at this level on a topic important to all of us -- preventing violence against women and children.  Violence in any community hinders development and prosperity, both economic and social at all levels of society.  This is most evident when it is turned against those who are most vulnerable.

Together, our presence here today underscores the importance we place on stopping violence against women and children.  Development and society as whole cannot truly advance unless we take care of the most vulnerable within our communities.  Gender-based violence and early child marriage spur gender inequality, and stop young girls and women from attaining their full potential.  They also significantly increase their vulnerability to HIV.  Early child marriage often means the end of formal education for girls, which limits their future and their ability to contribute to their families, communities, and the nation. 

True gender equality, and helping women and children live without the fear of violence, will help unlock their potential to do more, and that will help Zambia meet its ambitious development goals.  And in support of those national development goals, USAID, together with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, has invested significant resources in the STOP Gender-based Violence Program, which seeks an end to GBV and child marriage through community and national level interventions.  The STOP GBV program, implemented through ZCCP, in partnership with DFID, World Vision, and the Women and Law of Southern Africa NGOs, includes three essential components: Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Advocacy; legal support to survivors and broader policy reforms, including the opening of the Zambia’s first Fast Track Courts; and, providing direct services for survivors of gender-based violence.  

Together, we can be pleased of the progress we have seen through these programs, and I think we can all agree that reducing violence against women and children will accelerate with strong partnerships, and strong leadership, at all levels.  Your roles as Members of Parliament and leaders in Zambia are crucial in influencing the national response and in reducing unfortunate perceptions, in some quarters, that gender-based violence is acceptable.  Through your constituencies, you have a powerful opportunity to promote, advocate for, and protect children’s and women’s rights in Zambia. 

By continuing to work together, we can:

  1. Change the tacit acceptance of GBV among some in Zambia;

  2. Identify gaps in the law and advocate for legal reform where necessary; and

  3. Serve as change agents and leaders within our communities and zones of influence.

During his trip to Kenya last year, President Obama said these words, “Treating women as second-class citizens is a bad tradition: it holds you back.  There’s no excuse for sexual assault or domestic violence … there’s no place in a civilized society for the early or forced marriage of children.  These traditions may go back centuries; they have no place in the 21st century.  They are issues of right or wrong in any culture.  But they are also issues of success and failure.  Any nation that fails to educate its girls or employ its women and allow them to maximize their potential is doomed to fall behind the global economy.”

USAID and DFID, together with our NGO partners, are honored to join with the Government of Zambia to end Gender-Based Violence and work towards gender equality in Zambia. 

Thank you.

Lusaka, Zambia
Issuing Country 

Last updated: May 05, 2016

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