Volunteer - Livingstone, Zambia
Ways we aim to tackle gender-based violence in Livingstone, Zambia.
In recognition of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, the Girl Impact is shedding light on the ways we aim to tackle gender-based violence on our volunteer and internship program in Livingstone, Zambia.
The campaigns, coordinated by the Women’s Global Leadership Institute, began in 1991. Over a 16-day period, activists and women’s rights organizations around the world take part a mass call to action to raise awareness of issues facing girls and women. This year’s theme is Orange the World: #Hear Me Too. The campaign began on 25 November, which marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and concludes on 10 December, Human Rights Day.
As stated in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women that the United Nations General Assembly adopted, gender based violence is defined as “any act [of] violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women [and men], including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”. Similarly, in Zambia, gender-based violence “takes the form of physical, mental, social or economic abuse against a person because of that person’s gender and includes violence that may result in physical, sexual or psychological harm and suffering to the victim.”.
Specifically, women in Zambia experience several forms of violence, which include “battery, sexual abuse and exploitation, rape, defilement and incest.”. According to the Zambian Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS) 2013-2014, one in five women have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. Of all forms of violence, spousal abuse or domestic violence was the highest form of abuse reported. 43% of women aged between 15 to 49 years have experienced physical violence at least once since age 15, and at least 37% experienced physical violence within the 12 months prior to the survey. Overall, 47% of married women between the age of 15-49 report having experienced physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence from their current or most recent husband or partner. 10% of women reported experiencing violence during pregnancy and 9% of women who have experienced violence have never sought help and never told anyone about the violence.
The Victim’s Support Unit (VCU), which is a special unit in Zambia’s police department, has found that there is an increase in the number of reported cases of gender-based violence from 2008, with 7,135 cases to 2014 with 12,998 cases. The increase in reported cases illustrates the rise in awareness of gender-based violence as a crime and also shows that victims and advocates are aware of services they can reach out to for help. However, these numbers only represent the cases that have been reported. The number of reported cases theoretically would be much higher if victims, majorly women, felt comfortable reporting these acts of violence.
Underreported cases of gender-based violence in Zambia, may be attributed to social norms and attitudes that acknowledge men as providers and protectors of the family, whereas women are thought of as the caregiver within the house and home. Such socio-cultural barriers significantly effect and hinder the agency of women impacted by these acts of violence.
The Girl Impact in Zambia has held countless workshops in Livingstone, educating community members on gender-based violence. Workshops were held in local primary and secondary schools, along with universities. We believe that educating individuals in all stages of life is important about creating awareness on the issue and prevalence of gender-based violence. Over the course of the past three weeks, our volunteers have held six separate workshops with an estimated 270 students attending. We saw a 46% increase in the student’s level of understanding and knowledge of gender-based violence. We were able to track their progress by administering a pre and post-test.
Our workshops focused on educating the students on what gender-based violence is, cause of gender-based violence on different levels, stereotypes and cultures, the different types of gender-based violence, consequences of gender-based violence, understanding why it could be hard to seek help and organizations they can contact if they or a family or friend is a victim of gender-based violence.
One of our volunteers who taught one of our workshops recalled, “Walking into my class I had 45 pairs of eyes staring at me, I felt so vulnerable particularly with the content I was about to deliver. GBV is a massive issue in Australia, but it’s not something I like to talk about. While the delivery of GBV was really difficult for me, I was pleased to hear all kids, both boys and girls, contribute to the running and maintenance of their household and the stereotype isn’t primarily around women. I was not standing in front of them to tell them their ideas were wrong; my goal was to remind them that both men and women should be treated equally.”
 Comment made by volunteer Rebecca Zafirakos.