Tag Archives: Women

International Women’s Day Commemoration Lusaka Showgrounds, 8 March 2017 Remarks by the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Janet Rogan “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50/50 by 2030”

Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu

Your Honour the Vice President, Mrs Inonge Wina, MP

The Hon Chief Justice, Mrs Irene Mambilima

UN Zambia Resident Coordinator Ms. Janet Rogan

Hon Victoria Kalima, MP, Minister of Gender

Cabinet Ministers

Senior Government Officials

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Representatives of Civil Society Organisations

Media colleagues

Ladies and gentlemen

I am honoured once again to be representing the UN in Zambia on International Womens Day. Today’s national theme is “Promoting inclusiveness in economic participation as a means of attaining sustainable development”.

There are two underlying messages in this theme: first, “promoting inclusiveness” which is about empowering, or giving power to, those who are not currently included. It is about making space for others. Particularly, this message is to men, who possess the power and who occupy the space, that they need to share power, share space with women. The second message, which is “participation” is about taking power and stepping into that shared space in order to participate. Particularly, this second message is to women to take power, not only over their own lives and those of their families in the domestic space, but also in the public space – taking power and participating in community decision-making; climbing the ladder in the workplace; educating and training themselves; running their own business and employing others; taking responsibility for their own financial and legal affairs. It is about respect and opening up equal opportunity.

Some people will say that there’s no need for special attention to this. That discrimination on the basis of sex is natural and right. Indeed, it is alarming that despite the evidence that excluding and subjugating women damages economic growth, globally the situation is getting worse.  In his message today, the UN Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, noted that:

” Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.”

Here in Zambia, gender-based violence, child marriages and early pregnancy, as well as defilement of the girl child are at crisis levels. This shows a fundamental imbalance in the power levels in our society between women and men.

Zambia Police statistics show that in 2002, 870 cases of girl child defilement were reported. Last year, that had risen to over 2000 cases. Between 2014 and 2016 a total of 7,518 girls were defiled. This word “defilement” disguises and neutralises the vile brutality of the crime.  The Penal Code of Zambia defines “defilement” as any carnal knowledge of – this means sexual intercourse with – any girl under the age of sixteen, whether the girl consents or not. Put simply, it is rape. The penalty is a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life. Let me restate the crimes: in 2002, 870 cases of rape of girls were reported; last year, over 2000 girls were reported to have been raped (more than 5 a day, every day); and between 2014 and 2016 a total of 7,518 girls were reported raped.

Records of the University Teaching Hospital show that among those huge numbers are babies as young as one month old, who have been sexually assaulted – raped – and brought for treatment there. I sincerely applaud the dedication, commitment, care and pure love for the victims, the survivors, their families and care-givers shown by the women and men who work at the Paediatric Centre of Excellence and One Stop Shop in UTH in Lusaka, and by their colleagues around the country. They are dealing with a tidal wave of female tragedy and misery.

I have put so much emphasis on these numbers not only because they are sickening, but because a society in which such things can be done with such brutality to our precious girl children; a society which tolerates and even covers up such devastating crimes; is a society that is going to have significant difficulty in enabling those brutalised, injured, traumatised girls to grow up into women who are powerful, strong, educated, economically significant citizens. A society that can allow such violent crimes to rise to such numbers is a society that seems content to exclude and leave behind the female half of the population in every area of life. To reach significant levels of economic inclusion for women in Zambia, our society needs to change its attitudes, its behaviours, its prejudices.

If we are to bring about this transformation, we need to face this crisis, and act, together. Government has already taken a very strong lead in this and I applaud the sustained personal commitment of the President, which has also been recognised by UN Women, when they appointed him a HeForShe champion and by the African Union. The new Constitution enshrines non-discrimination and recognises the equal worth of women and men. It is a shame that the referendum to amend the Bill of Rights did not pass. Without it, there is a deficit in rights protection in this country. The Anti-GBV Act and the fast track courts for GBV cases are showing people that there is a route to justice. At least four more fast track courts are planned for this year. The Marriage Bill needs to be finalised and brought to parliament. Government policy to allocate land plots 50-50 should be implemented properly. Measures to improve access to finance for SMEs need to ensure that the rules are women-friendly. It should be a priority that all children, girls and boys, complete high school, with a curriculum that focuses on developing the right skills for employability, whether academic or vocational.

All political parties should fully support their female elected representatives at all levels, especially at district level, which is after all where development happens. I look forward to the publication of the Seventh National Development Plan, with its focus on mainstreaming the SDGs and Leaving No-one Behind. All communities in all parts of the country – all women, all men – need to find themselves and their needs included in the Seventh National Development Plan.

Yet, the Seventh National Development Plan will work only if attitudes and behaviours relating to women and girls change significantly and fast. We need to break the silence on the issues that are damaging and holding back our girls and women and we all have a part in that. Mothers: how can you sweep these crimes under the carpet and protect family members who violate your daughters? Faith-based organisations: why are issues of moral decay like girl rape not challenged from the pulpit week in and week out until significant change is seen? Traditional leaders – we applaud the great efforts you have made to address the harmful cultural practices in your chiefdoms; and we need yet more leadership from you to drive out once and for all girl rape, early marriage and GBV; to promote school attendance for girls and boys; and to demand gender balance in dealing with community-level issues.

Or do we not break silence? Are we more comfortable, as adult men and women, to continue to tolerate in our villages and towns the systematic subjugation of our female citizens from the moment they are born, through discrimination in their upbringing, sexual slavery and rape, physical and psychological brutality, entrenching dependence in miserable marriages through lack of education and enforced ignorance?

What is the value of a girl? The value of a girl is not a cost – it can not be added up – how much was her schooling, her daily meals, her clothes. The value of a girl is not a price – whether lobola or some equivalent. A girl is not a commodity. A girl is not a sex worker. A girl is not a cure for HIV/AIDS – there is no cure for HIV/AIDS.

A girl is a future President, a future professor, a future musician, a future business tycoon, a future astronaut, a nuclear scientist, a mining engineer, an ambassador for her country, an IT whizzkid, a film star. All these contribute to the GDP and the development of a country. An extra year in school can add up to 25% to a girl’s future income. When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth. Globally, closing the gender gap in employment could add USD 12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.

If the menfolk in Zambia are to ‘give power’ to womenfolk who are able to step in and take it; if we are to promote that economic inclusiveness to stimulate the growth that this country needs, then we must ensure that the raw material is the strongest it can be and we must protect it from any damage along the way. The value of a girl is the measure of the strength and maturity of a society. On International Womens Day, as on Human Rights Day only a few months ago, we must speak out for rights and I choose to speak out for the girlchild, the future of this and every country and the foundation of future economic growth. Please, no more shipikisha, break the silence, speak out, act to clean up the moral decay, prejudice and discrimination that holds back development in this beautiful country.

Thank you.

Sustainable Development Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

5.1 End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere

5.2 Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation

5.3 Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation

5.4 Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate

5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life

5.6 Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences

5.a Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws

5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women

5.c Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels

 

The Secretary General’s Written Message on International Womens Day- March 8 2017

Women’s rights are human rights. But in these troubled times, as our world becomes more unpredictable and chaotic, the rights of women and girls are being reduced, restricted and reversed.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.

Historic imbalances in power relations between men and women, exacerbated by growing inequalities within and between societies and countries, are leading to greater discrimination against women and girls. Around the world, tradition, cultural values and religion are being misused to curtail women’s rights, to entrench sexism and defend misogynistic practices.

Women’s legal rights, which have never been equal to men’s on any continent, are being eroded further. Women’s rights over their own bodies are questioned and undermined.  Women are routinely targeted for intimidation and harassment in cyberspace and in real life. In the worst cases, extremists and terrorists build their ideologies around the subjugation of women and girls and single them out for sexual and gender-based violence, forced marriage and virtual enslavement.

Despite some improvements, leadership positions across the board are still held by men, and the economic gender gap is widening, thanks to outdated attitudes and entrenched male chauvinism. We must change this, by empowering women at all levels, enabling their voices to be heard and giving them control over their own lives and over the future of our world.

Denying the rights of women and girls is not only wrong in itself; it has a serious social and economic impact that holds us all back. Gender equality has a transformative effect that is essential to fully functioning communities, societies and economies.

Women’s access to education and health services has benefits for their families and communities that extend to future generations. An extra year in school can add up to 25 per cent to a girl’s future income.

When women participate fully in the labour force, it creates opportunities and generates growth. Closing the gender gap in employment could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. Increasing the proportion of women in public institutions makes them more representative, increases innovation, improves decision-making and benefits whole societies.

Gender equality is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the global plan agreed by leaders of all countries to meet the challenges we face. Sustainable Development Goal 5 calls specifically for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and this is central to the achievement of all the 17 SDGs.

I am committed to increasing women’s participation in our peace and security work. Women negotiators increase the chances of sustainable peace, and women peacekeepers decrease the chances of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Within the UN, I am establishing a clear road map with benchmarks to achieve gender parity across the system, so that our Organization truly represents the people we serve.  Previous targets have not been met. Now we must move from ambition to action.

On International Women’s Day, let us all pledge to do everything we can to overcome entrenched prejudice, support engagement and activism, and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.

A Continent of Hope

By António Guterres

Far too often, the world views Africa through the prism of problems. When I look to Africa, I see a continent of hope, promise and vast potential.

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

The UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres

I am committed to building on those strengths and establishing a higher platform of cooperation between the United Nations and the leaders and people of Africa. This is essential to advancing inclusive and sustainable development and deepening cooperation for peace and security.

That is the message I carried to the recent African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — my first major mission as United Nations Secretary-General.

Above all, I came in a spirit of profound solidarity and respect. I am convinced that the world has much to gain from African wisdom, ideas and solutions.

I also brought with me a deep sense of gratitude. Africa provides the majority of United Nations peacekeepers around the world. African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees. Africa includes some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

The recent resolution of the political crisis in the Gambia once again demonstrated the power of African leadership and unity to overcome governance challenges and uphold democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

I left the Summit more convinced than ever that all of humanity will benefit by listening, learning and working with the people of Africa.

We have the plans in place to build a better future. The international community has entered the second year of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an all-out effort to tackle global poverty, inequality, instability and injustice. Africa has adopted its own complementary and ambitious plan: Agenda 2063.

For the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts, these two agendas need to be strategically aligned.

It starts with prevention. Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. We need to break the cycle of responding too late and too little.

Most of today’s conflicts are internal, triggered by competition for power and resources, inequality, marginalization and sectarian divides. Often, they are inflamed by violent extremism or provide the fuel for it.

The United Nations is committed to working hand-in-hand with partners wherever conflict or the threat of conflict endangers stability and well-being.
But prevention goes far beyond focusing solely on conflict. The best means of prevention and the surest path to durable peace is inclusive and sustainable development.

We can speed progress by doing more to provide opportunities and hope to young people. More than three out of five Africans are under 35 years of age. Making the most of this tremendous asset means more investment in education, training, decent work, and engaging young people in shaping their future.

We must also do our utmost to empower women so they can play a full role in sustainable development and sustainable peace. I am pleased that the African Union has consistently placed a special focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

I have seen it again and again: When we empower women, we empower the world.

I travelled to Africa as a partner, friend and committed advocate for changing the narrative about this diverse and vital continent. Crises represent at best a partial view. But from a higher platform of cooperation, we can see the whole picture – one that spotlights the enormous potential and remarkable success stories in every corner of the African continent.

With that perspective, I have no doubt we can win the battle for sustainable and inclusive development which are also the best weapons to prevent conflict and suffering, allowing Africa to shine even more vibrantly and inspire the world.
António Guterres is Secretary-General of the United Nations

Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Achieving Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls: Is SDG 5 Missing Something?

By Gita Sen

Gita Sen is Professor of Public Policy at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India, and Adjunct Professor of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, United States of America.

Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

In a paper entitled “No empowerment without rights, no rights without politics”, that was written for a Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) assessment project, we argued that: “…progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment in the development agenda requires a human rights-based approach, and requires support for the women’s movement to activate and energize the agenda. Both are missing from Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3. Empowerment requires agency along multiple dimensions—sexual, reproductive, economic, political, and legal. However, MDG 3 frames women’s empowerment as reducing educational disparities. By omitting other rights and not recognizing the multiple interdependent and indivisible human rights of women, the goal of empowerment is distorted and “development silos” are created…”.

We also drew attention to “women’s organizations…[as] key actors in pushing past such distortions and silos at all levels, and hence crucial to pushing the gender equality agenda forward. However, the politics of agenda setting also influences funding priorities such that financial support for women’s organizations and for substantive women’s empowerment projects is limited” (Sen and Mukherjee, 2014, p. 188).

Much has changed since the MDGs were first formulated soon after the Millennium Declaration in 2000. Or has it? It is undoubtedly true that, as compared to the formulation of the MDGs, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) has been a more open and more inclusive process driven by United Nations Member States, and generating intense and wide debate. And yet, when it comes to gender justice, the goals sound eerily similar. MDG 3 committed to “Promote gender equality and empower women”; SDG 5 (as agreed thus far through the process of the General Assembly’s Open Working Group (OWG)) (United Nations, 2014) calls to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. However, two important differences at this level are the explicit inclusion of girls, and of the word “all ”, which can be used to address the challenges faced by the most marginalized and oppressed. More differences appear at the level of the targets under the goal: whereas MDG 3 had a single target focused on education, SDG 5 proposes a range of targets to end discrimination, violence and harmful practices, recognize and value unpaid care work, participation and leadership in decision-making, and universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. How SDG 5 and its proposed targets will finally translate into indicators, and whether these will be effective and usable for monitoring (where the rubber hits the road) remains to be seen.

Nonetheless, despite advances over the MDGs, there is still a worrying limitation to SDG 5: the absence of a clear recognition of the human rights of women and girls. This piece is being written even as the battle over the affirmation of women’s human rights and the role of women human rights defenders has been bitterly fought at this year’s meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). What happens at the CSW is important because it is an established institution for review and monitoring, and because it is under the aegis of UN-Women, which will be the main operational arm for meeting SDG 5.

The Political Declaration of the CSW (United Nations, 2015), which is the main outcome of the meeting, includes human rights in a non-operational chapeau; once more in paragraph 2 where it recognizes that the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women are mutually reinforcing for the realization of the human rights of women and girls; and again in paragraph 5 where human rights of women are listed as one of the 12 critical areas of concern (of the BPFA). The attempt to thread human rights throughout the document did not succeed, although neither did the attempt to remove all mention. But the main operational paragraph (paragraph 6) where Governments pledge to take action contains nothing explicit on human rights, nor does any other paragraph.

Even the limited mentions of human rights in the Political Declaration were only agreed upon after protracted negotiations against arguments such as those of an observer State that women’s human rights are only one among the 12 areas of the BPFA and should not be given special mention. That the human rights of girls and women should be contentious 15 years after the Millennium Declaration, and 20 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women, is a product of backlash. This backlash attempts to roll back the advances and very real changes in norms and frameworks for realizing women’s human rights, agreed by consensus among Member States during the United Nations conferences (at Vienna, Cairo and Beijing) of the 1990s. While funding to translate these norms and frameworks into practice has been woefully inadequate as noted by Sen and Mukherjee in their articles, the norms themselves are essential to have in place.

Human rights are contentious because, unlike policies and programmes, they are often more

The SDGs

The SDGs

clearly justiciable, and can be used to hold Governments and others to account for their acts of commission or omission. The backlash against women’s human rights has been led by Member (and observer) States of the United Nations with poor records on discrimination against women, as well as laws, policies and practices that sustain gender inequality across a wide spectrum of issues. A telling reminder of who is principally behind the backlash was the Political Declaration’s refusal to recognize the key role of women’s human rights defenders who often risk their liberty and their lives to protect and advance the human rights of girls and women at risk. However, the fault is not only here. The refusal by other Member States to recognize that economic, social and cultural rights are interlinked and inseparable from civil and political rights is also a serious challenge to advancing towards the fulfilment of SDG 5.

Finally, one also has to ask the question: where’s the beef? Each SDG (as enunciated in the OWG’s report) has its attached targets and means of implementation. Those linked to SDG 5 mention legal reforms and technology (5.a, 5.b and 5.c), but there is no reference made about funding. Given that a major weakness in the fulfilment of MDG 3 was the inadequacy of funding, the challenge of funding SDG 5 will remain as a major stumbling block unless it becomes central to its means of implementation.

References

Fukuda-Parr, Sakiko, Alicia Ely Yamin, and Joshua Greenstein (2014). The Power of Numbers: A Critical Review of Millennium Development Goal Targets for Human Development and Human Rights. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, vol. 15, no. 2-3, p. 105-117.

Sen, Gita, and Avanti Mukherjee (2014). No Empowerment Without Rights, No Rights Without Politics: Gender-equality, MDGs and the post-2015 Development Agenda. Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, vol. 15, no. 2-3. p. 188-202.

United Nations, Report of the Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals, 12 August 2014 (A/68/970). Available from http://undocs.org/a/68/970.

United Nations, Economic and Social Council (2015). Commission on the Status of Women. Political declaration on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

5 March. E/Cn.6/2015/L.1.

First published in the UN Chronicle, Department of Public Information, United Nations.

World Press Freedom Day 2015: Celebrated in Zambia

Zambia joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Press Freedom Day that falls on the 3rd May each year. This important day gives the media and various stakeholders time to reflect on what the men and women who give us information go through in order to get information to our” table”. This is the time when we look at the contribution that information plays in the development of the nation and the world at large.

World Press Freedom Day Parade.

World Press Freedom Day Parade.

The global theme was “Towards Better Reporting, Gender Equality, and Media Safety in the Digital Age and the Media in Zambia adopted “Women in the Media Digital Age”, the theme challenges the Media and Government to reflect on the use of new media and the responsibilities it comes with as well as the role women in the media are playing. It is important that as the media becomes involved in transforming societies through the new found media freedom, they should also be very responsible in the information that they put across.

The United Nations recognizes that information is the most powerful tool that can transform the nation, hence the need as to recognize that in order for a developing country like Zambia to move forward, it needs to work hand in hand with the media.

A number of activities were planned to mark the occasion as follows; a social media training for community radio stations and some main stream media houses was facilitated by BBC Media Action on April 28, 2015. The was a digital media exhibition held at Arcades Shopping mall in Lusaka were organizations such as UNESCO, Zambia News and Information Services (ZANIS), Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM), Media Institute Southern Africa, Zambia Chapter (MISA-Zambia), Q FM Radio and others showcased various products in line with the theme for 2015, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Service Mr. Malama toured the exhibition and encouraged the media in Zambia to embrace good media ethics and technology in the execution of their duties.

Over the weekend on April 30, the scribes took time out from their notepads and pencils and engaged in social sports at Zamsure Sports Complex with games such as tug-of-war, football and netball that saw them battle it out in mixed teams for honors and later on had a social braai.

On May 4th, print and electronic media houses gathered for the official commemoration at the Freedom statue, beforehand, held a match past through the city centre after being flagged off by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Hon. Chishimba Kambwili MP. Speaking at the venue were Mr. Enoch Ngoma the chairperson of the 2015 organizing committee, the UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Janet Rogan and the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services. The chairperson of the organizing committee urged government to support the media, by enacting the access to information bill (ATI) and guaranteeing the safety of journalists from being harassed by political cadres. This sentiment was also affirmed by the Minister who said government will not protect anyone who harasses media personnel in the discharge of their duties.

The UN Resident Coordinator in her speech stated it is about living the aspirations of the young generation, providing them access to information and preparing them to make the right choices in life.  It is also about building new partnerships and working better together with media professionals for sustainable development across societies and countries. And, it is about unleashing our true commitment to leave no one behind and to create a more equal world. Quoting the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-moon, “women remain underrepresented throughout the media, at decision-making level but also in the coverage of issues. We cannot let this stand. Men and women must participate equally in making and sharing the news.”

She said the stereotyped portrayal of women and girls in the media is not only unfair but it also harms them.  It contributes to harmful traditional practices, including child marriage.  It can encourage violence against women and girls and violation of their rights. In Zambia, hardly a day goes by without reading or hearing of a case of a woman beaten or raped; or a girl child who has been defiled.  I say to journalists: it is not enough to report these cases.  It is necessary to look beyond the incidents and plain numbers and investigate and report on the root causes of discrimination and violence against women and girls in this country. For the media have the power not only to influence government decisions and the direction of national policy, but also to raise a voice against discrimination, oppression and violence in society itself. Harnessing this unique power is key to promoting human rights and achieving equality.

At the event, MacPherson Mukuka, a journalist and a community radio station called Chikuni

Part of the participants who took part in the mentorship program at UNIC Lusaka.

Part of the participants who took part in the mentorship program at UNIC Lusaka.

radio received recognition awards, a Climate Change and UNESCO award sponsored by the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, under the Climate Change Secretariat and UNESCO respectively. Both awards were presented by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Mr. Chishimba Kambwili.

May 5th was the climax of the press freedom day activities as veteran scribes got to mentor their juniors, the mentorship program was primarily focused on women in the media. The mentorship was held at the UN Information Centre and facilitated by Ms. Felistus Chipako, Chairperson of the Zambia Media Women Association (ZAMWA). Other notable speakers included Mr. Victor Mbumwae from the Ministry of Gender and Mr. Enock Ngoma a veteran journalist.

Transatlantic Slave Trade Outreach, Lusaka Zambia

“This year’s Day of Remembrance pays particular tribute to the many women who suffered and died during the slave trade. … Women slaves played a key role in maintaining the dignity of their communities. Too often their leadership and brave resistance have been underestimated or forgotten.” (Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General)

Slavery is one human tragedy that occurred over 4 centuries ago, on continents such as Africa especially in West Africa were affected as many people along the coast were transshipped across the Atlantic Ocean to mainly the Americas to work in the sugar and coffee fields there. Many suffered many atrocities during these gruesome journeys. However, even though slavery was banned centuries ago its practices have continued in this day and age in different formats in many parts of the world.

Students from the University of Zambia take part in a discussion on slavery via WebEx with Students from Lagos, Nigeria. Photo credit UNIC Lusaka.

Students from the University of Zambia take part in a discussion on slavery via WebEx with Students from Lagos, Nigeria. Photo credit UNIC Lusaka.

Transatlantic Slave Trade has been an annual observance with a different theme every year and this year the focus was on “women and slavery”. As part of the activities UNIC Lagos and Lusaka held a joint WebEx meeting for students in the two cities and the discussion was primarily focused on modern day slavery, students from university and high school level took part and gave their views on the issues around modern day slavery in relation to what is presently happening in their communities.

Some of the examples relating to modern day slavery included payments of gratitude by those who look for jobs for others such as maids, forced labor of both adults and children, subjecting people to inhumane conditions of service. The issue of surrogacy was discussed, however, it was not fully determined whether it was a form of modern slavery or not.

The discussion continued in Lusaka through various platforms such as on Twitter, Facebook and via bulk sms. Also campaign material was distributed as another way of creating awareness. There was also a special screening of the documentary called “They Are We” held at UNIC Lusaka. Other outreach activities included social media awareness and distribution of background information on the topic of slavery and the theme for 2015.

UN ZAMBIA JOINT STATEMENT INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, 2014

This year’s United Nations theme for International Women’s Day stresses that “Equality for women is progress for all.” Achieving equality for women and girls is important not simply because it is a matter of fairness and fundamental human rights, but because progress in so many other areas depends on it.

An investment in the improved health and education of women, leads directly to a healthier and

International Women's Day march past

Women in uniform marching

more prosperous household, village and larger community. Giving women the power to make choices over their lives is one of the first steps towards a world with zero hunger. In every country where UN works, including in Zambia, women are front and centre in programmes to tackle many development challenges, including food insecurity and nutrition.

“It is evident that equality for women and girls means progress for all. This simple fact must be central as we work to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 deadline, and design an ambitious agenda for the Post-2015,” said Martin Clemensson, the UN Resident Coordinator a.i in Zambia. “We are seeing some progress on gender equality indicators in the area of health and education; continued commitment and intentional policies and programmes however, are essential to accelerating the progress made so far.”

Over 50 per cent of Zambia’s population is female. The chance to go up the education chain, without having to drop out, be beaten or become a child labourer, and having the same access to skills and resources required to participate fully in the country’s economic development will more than double Zambia’s GDP, and halve the levels of child malnutrition and ill-health.

The UN in Zambia commends the efforts that have been taken by government to address Gender Based Violence in Zambia, through the enactment of the Anti-Gender Based Violence Act. The UN acknowledges the political commitment attached to this issue, and takes special note of the fact that work to establish ‘fast track courts” is being undertaken. The UN System is actively collaborating with Government, the Police and the Judiciary on these initiatives. “I have a message for every girl born today, and to every woman and girl on the planet: Realizing human rights and equality is not a dream, it is a duty of governments, the United Nations and every human being,” said the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon in his message on International Women’s Day.

The Secretary General also appealed men and boys to play their part. “All of us benefit when women and girls – your mothers, sisters, friends and colleagues — can reach their full potential.

Together, let us work for women’s rights, empowerment and gender equality as we strive to eliminate poverty and promote sustainable development. Equality for women is progress for all.”