The Sunday News
Mollet Ndebele, Sunday News Reporter
THE European Union has committed US$34 million to the Spotlight Initiative meant to ensure that women and girls benefit from national policies.
The initiative has been implemented in five provinces, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, Manicaland, Matabeleland South, and Harare.
In a statement, the United Nations said the Spotlight Initiative aims to ensure that all women and girls benefit from adequate legislation and policies, gender responsive institutions, violence prevention programmes, essential services, comparable and reliable data, and strong women’s movements and civil society organisations.
On Friday, the country joined the rest of the world in celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child.
The International Day of the Girl Child has been celebrated each year on 11 October since the United Nations adopted it as an international day in December 2011 to highlight the different challenges that girls face in society.
In addition, the day is also dedicated to the empowerment of girls across the globe and the promotion of gender equality and human rights.
In commemoration of International Day of the Girl Child, last Friday in Harare, girls selected from the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe through an essay competition took the helm of UN leadership replacing the roles of the UN Resident Co-ordinator, and six UN heads of Agencies making a symbolic statement on the need to empower girls to make decisions, assume leadership roles, and live and thrive in a gender equal society.
Addressing the participants, the designated UN Resident Co-ordinator of Zimbabwe for the day, Chantel Mawunidza, who is also the Minister of State of the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe, said countries cannot achieve their development agenda as long as women and girls continue to be silenced and marginalised in society.
“Engaging young women and girls is crucial in achieving the sustainable development therefore the UN is committed to working with girls realise their potential and meaningfully contribute to inclusive development and economic prosperity in their society,” said Muwanidza.
Senator of Junior Parliament, Vimbai Jukwa who took up the position as the head of ILO said:
“I encourage women and girls to take up leadership roles to achieve gender parity in all spheres of decision-making, including in political, economic, social and public life.”
Another Junior Parliamentarian Elinah Moyo, who was taking up the position of the Resident Representative of UNDP, said women rights and empowerment are key contributing factors to economic growth, social development, political stability and environmental sustainability.
“There is no better way to show commitment to improving the life of the girl child than to involve girls in such initiatives.
“You cannot do anything for a girl without the girl’s active involvement,” she said.
Kelina Mutate, member of the National Assembly in the Junior Parliament who took over Unesco during the #ZimGirlsTakeover campaign said, “I am determined to ensure that there are strict laws guarding the girl child from early marriages in Zimbabwe.”
She also raised concern about women and girls with disabilities being at a disproportionately higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence and harmful practice.
UNFPA country representative for the day, Caroline Muwonda of Junior Parliament said there is an urgent need to address the issues of girls living with disabilities.
Unicef representative for the day, Naledi Green emphasised the importance of sustainable development goals.
“Addressing violence and discrimination against women and girls is essential to ensure that no one is left behind in the development agenda,” she said.
Sandra Munhundarima, a judge in the Junior Parliament of Zimbabwe spent the day as the head of UN Women and she said she will make sure that girls occupy spaces and know that they have a right to be heard.