The Panos Institute Southern Africa (PSAf) has launched a media campaign where men from different sections of society will spearhead efforts to eradicate violence against women in Zambia. Former Zambian First Lady Dr Maureen Mwanawasa and Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) director general Mr Chibamba Kanyama are the two ambassadors of the campaign, which PSAf is implementing with funding from the Oxfam Programme in Zambia. The campaign seeks to build a movement of men that will stand up against violence, to influence the adoption of new values by society, and influence and affirm the development of new non-violent values and culture.
Through the campaign, PSAf will use different media tools to help transform attitudes, beliefs and behaviours among men, women, and the youth as separate groups while acknowledging how they interact in certain ways within the cultural setting.
Speaking at the launch of the campaign in Lusaka on Friday 22 June 2012, PSAf Executive Director Ms Lilian Chigona said the campaign was a response to increasing violence against women and girls.
“As we all know, level of physical and sexual abuse of women and girls have been increasing in our society. Abuse of one woman or girl child is unacceptable in any context. It deprives the abused of an opportunity to lead and self-confident, and productive life,” said Ms Chigona.
Dr Mwanawasa described violence against women as “cycle which needs to be nipped in the bud”. She said although gender based violence was a worldwide problem, “an unhealthy mix of tradition, inequality and even ignorance” was making it difficult to tackle it in Zambia and other African countries.
To address violence, Dr Mwanawasa said there was need to look at the various factors that cause violence.
“It (violence against women) is not a stand-alone issue; it has a lot to do with the education and status of the women,” said Dr Mwanawasa.
“It is important to ensure that women and girls get access to education and economic empowerment. These factors reduce vulnerability and increase the capacity of women and girls to make independent decisions over their lives.”
She commended PSAf for coming up with a campaign where men act as torch bearers to foster behaviour change.
“Together we can create a safer environment for both men and women. If you can fight a woman or a girl, then you are also demeaning your own mother, sister, aunties, grandmother and indeed any other female friend or relative,” said Dr Mwanawasa.
In his address, Mr Kanyama said gender based violence has far reaching negative effects on national development.
“Where there is violence there is no progress,” said Mr Kanyama.
Mr Kanyama pledged the national broadcaster’s commitment to promote dialogue on issues like gender based violence. He said the problem of violence could only be solved if people changed their mindsets.
“The ZNBC is ready to offer a platform for this media campaign through its radio and television services. As a national broadcaster, ZNBC is committed to see an end to thioss scourge through sensitisation of the public. ZNBC is aware that the problem is not the absence or inadequacy of laws and policies. This problem of violence against women has everything to do with people’s mindsets and beliefs.”
Ms Chigona further described the abuse of women and girls as “a disaster (which) deprives the society of many productive players who can advance development of our society”.
“We cannot afford to keep silent about this. It is time that we all take our positions for action, to not only talk about it, but to actively be engaged to work toward ending violence against women,” said Ms Chigona.
The media campaign is currently being implemented in Lusaka Province, and will be scaled up to other provinces later this year.
Notes for editors
PSAf is a regional communication for development organisation that seeks to amplify voices of the poor and marginalised, by supporting their participation in debate on national issues.
The media campaign against violence against women is being funded by the Oxfam Programme in Zambia.
Mr Chibamba Kanyama and Dr Maureen Mwanawasa are voluntarily working as ambassadors of the campaign.
Through the project, PSAf will support the production and dissemination of content on gender based violence through radio, television, print and online media.
International instruments to address violence against women include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, the UN Declaration on Violence Against Women of 1993 and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003).
National efforts targeted at addressing VAW include the enactment of the anti-gender based violence act, 2011, which provides for the effective protection of victims of gender based violence.