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Remarks by United Nations Zambia Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio On the occasion of the 75th United Nations Day Commemoration in Zambia 29 October 2020

  • The Honourable Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development, Mr. Emmanuel Mulenga, MP
  • All senior Government officials
  • Members of the UN Country Team
  • Other UN colleagues
  • The youth
  • Everyone that has joined us virtually including
  • Members of the Diplomatic Corps
  • Cooperating Partners
  • Implementing partners
  • The media
  • Ladies and gentlemen

I welcome you all to the official commemoration of the United Nations Day in Zambia. I am, on behalf of the United Nations Country Team and the entire UN family in Zambia, honoured to

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, UN Resident Coordinator Zambia

share a few remarks on this occasion when we celebrate the founding of the United Nations 75 years ago. The theme of this year’s celebration is “The future we want, the UN we need: Reaffirming our commitment to multilateralism.

Let me begin my remarks with a brief about the founding of the United Nations (UN). As you are aware, following the end of the Second World War, the world was in ruins and nations wanted peace. Countries came together and said; ‘Enough is Enough’. The name “United Nations”, coined by then United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was first used in the Declaration by the United Nations on 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers.

In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the UN Conference on International Organisation to draw up the UN Charter. The delegates deliberated on the basis of proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, at Dumbarton Oaks, United States, in August-October 1944.

On 26 June 1945, the Charter was signed by the representatives of the 50 countries. Poland, which was not represented at the Conference, signed it later and became one of the original 51 Member States.

The United Nations officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, when the Charter had been ratified by China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and by most other signatories. As a result, United Nations Day is celebrated on 24 October each year. I am happy to note that this birthday is shared with Zambia’s Independence Day which we celebrated a few days ago.

The United Nations has, working through its 193 member States, over the last 75 years lived up to the purposes and principles contained in its founding Charter. Challenges have been met on the way and many still exist today but we continue to forge ahead and work to help resolve issues affecting humanity that include peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, and food production.

In doing this, the UN encourages collaboration because we need stronger cooperation among

Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, UN Zambia Resident Coordinator and Hon. Emmanuel Mulenga, Minister of Youth Sport & Child Development toast to the UN@75. Photo Credit: UN Zambia

nations to resolve the challenges that threaten to undo the gains we have made this far. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we are one global village and one people with one vision who wish to live in good health and enjoy what life has to offer.

The Coronavirus brought us all to a stop and its effects continue to be felt across the world. We have seen how nations, the private sector, philanthropists and individuals have come forward to offer support, showing the importance of working together in unity and solidarity. Now and post COVID-19, all UN member States need to work together and build back better. With greater multilateralism, we can emerge stronger and better face other challenges that may come.

 Guest of honour, ladies and gentlemen

We need trust and collaboration with never ending dialogue. With the Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of our work, we need to forge ahead as one human family and deliver a better future for all and the UN that we need.

As the UN Secretary General, His Excellency, Mr António Guterres said in his 2020 UN Day message: I QUOTE…

 “The Sustainable Development Goals give us an inspiring blueprint for recovering better. We face colossal challenges.  With global solidarity and cooperation, we can overcome them.”  END OF QUOTE.

I am happy to note that in Zambia, the UN is supporting Zambia’s development priorities through the United Nations Sustainable Development Partnership Framework that has been fully aligned to the Five Pillars of the Seventh National Development Plan or 7NDP, thereby making our support more efficient and effective.

Through the Partnership Framework, the UN interventions have mainly focused on economic diversification and job creation, reducing poverty and vulnerability, reducing developmental inequalities, enhancing human development, and governance and human rights.

As we do our work, our principle is to ensure that no one is left behind while also helping ensure gender equality, disability inclusion and having a special focus on vulnerable groups.

While we are on track in meeting the targets set in the Partnership Framework by 2022, there is need to further strengthen our efforts in different areas that include reducing deaths driven by Non-Communicable Diseases, ending child marriages, increasing women empowerment and the participation of women in elected positions.

 Guest of Honour, ladies and gentlemen

Among the main UN achievements and contributions to the 7NDP, include progress in the Zambia Health System Strengthening Programme; the general improvement in school enrolment which places Zambia on track towards achieving the SDG target on education; the increased access to safe drinking water from 63% to 86% in urban areas and from 47% to 55%, in rural areas. By raising awareness on climate change and training the Government of Zambia extension staff and farmers in climate change adaptation, the UN has contributed to the increase in adoption of weather index insurance among smallholder farmers. UN support has also strengthened the capacity of young people to strategically advocate for youth priorities at national and sub-national levels.

I wish to commend the Government of the Republic of Zambia for its ownership of the UN interventions and for its commitment towards making the vision of Zambia a reality. On behalf of the UN family, I wish to reaffirm our continued support and partnership with the Government and people of Zambia and ensure a better Zambia in which no one is left behind.

Let me turn to the UN75 campaign which is an important activity on which we have dedicated a lot of efforts this year to mark, in a special way, the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. You have certainly seen UN75 visibility through our writings, videos and other materials.

In January this year, the UN Secretary General launched the UN75 campaign as the world’s largest listening exercise to hear from global citizens on the future we want and the UN we need. We have since January been working with partners to reach as many people as possible, to listen to their hopes and fears, learn from their experiences and empower them to think and act globally. This has been done through the UN75 Dialogues and one-minute survey.

In Zambia, close to 50,000 people have so far participated in the survey which is still open until 31 December 2020. Being third in the world in terms of the survey participation, Zambians have spoken, and their views were part of the UN75 Report released on 21 September 2020 during the UN General Assembly.

Guest of Honour, ladies and gentlemen

I am pleased to share with you what Zambians aspire to as they expressed themselves through the UN75 survey:

When asked on what the international community should prioritize to recover better from COVID-19, Zambians noted the following top priorities:

Some of the Youth Participants at the UN Day Youth Dialogue. Photo Credit: UN Zambia

-increase support to the hardest hit countries and communities;

-strengthen solidarity between people and nation;

-rethink the global economy and invest more in education and youth programmes.

On the question of the world they want in 25 years, Zambians aspire to:

-better access to healthcare;

-more employment opportunities and;

– more sustainable consumption and production.

In terms of the global trends that could affect most their futures, Zambians mentioned:

-risks related to health,

-Climate Change and Environmental issues; and rapid changes in our populations.

Further, over 25,000 of the respondents said that it is essential for countries to work together to manage these trends while about 22,000 said that COVID-19 had changed their views on cooperation between countries resulting in them now favouring more cooperation.

This morning, the survey findings I have outlined were discussed by youth with a view of making recommendations on how leaders can actualise the future we want. I wish to thank all the youth who participated in the Youth Dialogue both in person and virtually.

The youth are the leaders of tomorrow. They know what they pass through and their needs. Hearing their voice is, therefore, important. The resolutions made by the young people will help shape our shared future beginning with issues that affect Zambia.

To conclude, let me remind everyone that we only have 10 years to go before the year 2030 when we need to have made progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. We need all hands-on deck so that each of us can contribute and help in the attainment of the Global Goals. The task is huge but possible, if we work together, and stay the course with full commitment.

THANK YOU.

PRESS RELEASE-UN welcomes Vice-President’s announcement of a technical review to address rumours on CSE Framework in Zambia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Lusaka, 06 October 2020: The United Nations (UN) in Zambia commends the Government of the Republic of Zambia for its announcement that the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) curriculum would be subjected to a multisectoral technical review. The recent statement by Her Honour the Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, Ms. Inonge Mutukwa Wina, MP, provides a way forward, a platform for more discussion of the national CSE Framework, and an opportunity for all actors to find out more about the content of the Framework and results from its implementation.

The UN believes that the CSE Framework provides an important tool to address early and unintended pregnancies, HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), child marriage and Gender-Based Violence in Zambia. The UN stands ready to provide support to the Government of the Republic of Zambia on the planned review.

The UN believes that children and young people should have access to accurate, factual, age- and culturally-appropriate information about relationships as they transition to adulthood. Contrary to recent rumours and misleading information circulating on social media, the CSE Framework (2014) was developed by the Government of the Republic Zambia through a thorough and consultative process involving education sector stakeholders, traditional leaders, faith-based groups and Civil Society Organisations, resulting in an age-appropriate curriculum respecting Zambian cultural values. The CSE Framework in Zambia has been delivered to learners as part of examinable subjects and not as a standalone subject.

For more information, please contact:

Mark Maseko, National Information Officer, UN Information Centre, Lusaka, Zambia.
M: + 260-955767062; E: masekom@un.org

Promoting Media Awareness on the Sustainable Development Goals

On 27 July 2017, UNIC Lusaka as part of the UN Communications Group and in partnership with UNESCO, held a media engagement activity to raise journalists’ awareness on the Sustainable

Journalists having a brainstorming session

Development Goals and reporting on gender, education and ending child marriages. The training ended with the creation of media network for reporting on gender, education and ending child marriages. Presenters were drawn from the UN and the Ministry of National Development Planning.

In 2018 the UNCG will sponsor media awards to recognize the best media coverage of the SDGs through the Media Institute for Southern Africa.

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