By Mark Maseko, UNIC Lusaka
“Where is the party to celebrate? It feels great to be part of the winning team. As ILO we are happy to carry the day,” said Glenda Masebe, Communication Officer at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) office in Lusaka.
About the Contest
On 24 November 2017, about 500 staff in the 14 UN resident agencies in Zambia took part in a
contest to dress in the colour orange and take group photos which best showed innovation in creating awareness about Gender Based Violence (GBV) which is sexual, physical or emotional violence targeted against women. The contest was held as part of the global 16 Days of Activism Against GBV.
The winning entry
Staff from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) were declared winners for submitting two photos which showed them positioned to spell out the words ‘Stop GBV.’
“…Big congratulations to Alexio [ILO Country Director for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique] and the ILO team. Spelling out “STOP GBV” in the two photos was judged as innovative and cool,” said Noala Skinner, UN Zambia Resident Coordinator at the time.
Every office was lit with the colour orange as staff proudly showed off their shirts, dresses, headscarves and other attire before taking group photos as agencies. The next four days had all staff waiting in anticipation for the results.
Gender-Based Violence in Zambia
Although the contest was fun, the most important takeaway is the seriousness and urgency of GBV in the country.
Zambia has witnessed an increase in GBV. While the country has strong cultural traditions that help promote harmony and peace, certain practices and beliefs such as teaching women to endure violence in marriage and that sexual intercourse with a virgin cures HIV, seem to contribute to violence against women and girls. These incidences include child defilement and rape. According to the Zambia Police Service, in 2002, 870 cases of girl child defilement were reported. Between 2014 and 2016, 7,518 girls were defiled. In 2016, the cases of child defilement had risen to over 2,000.