Zimbabwe, 18 March 2011: UNICEF launches report on the Situation of Women and Children
Calls to reduce disparities and improve equity…
HARARE, 18 March 2011—The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of Zimbabwe today called for action to improve the status of women and children. The call coincided with the release of the Situational Analysis (Sitan) on the Status of Women’s and Children’s Rights in Zimbabwe that showed that their access to basic social services and social protection remains limited.
Although the report acknowledges that progress has been made to improve the lives of women and children in Zimbabwe, it notes that reduced access to basic social services, lack of social protection mechanisms, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and child abuse are major impediments for women and children’s development. It also highlights endemic poverty and HIV and AIDS as contributing to high levels of vulnerability.
“The Situational Analysis we are launching today is an important reminder that despite our collective efforts, the status of women and children of this country remains critical,” said UNICEF Country Representative, Dr. Peter Salama. “It should be a reference point for those who are concerned about improving the lives of women and children in Zimbabwe.”
One in four children in Zimbabwe has lost one or both parents due to HIV and other causes. These children are being looked after by extended families and are among the 100,000 child headed households in the country. Every day 100 children under the age of five and eight women are dying from mostly preventable deaths. More than a third of children face permanent limitation on their life and potential due to chronic malnutrition or stunting. In addition, as the economy has faltered, the data demonstrates that the poorest quintiles of the population have suffered the most in terms of declining access to services.
Through its findings the Sitan recommends the development of programmes aimed at supporting access to basic social services for women and children such as the abolition of user fees for pregnant women and children under five and initiating a national social cash transfer programme targeting the poorest, among many others. It also recommends the development of policies and programmes to prevent violence against women and children.
“Gender Based Violence and violence against children destroys the spirit of our women and children and limits their full potential to make meaningful contribution to society,” said Dr Olivia Muchena, Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development.
Zimbabwe is recovering from a challenging period that led to the decline of the once acclaimed social safety net, leaving many women and children to bear the brunt of this deterioration. As well as recommending the Government of Zimbabwe continues to prioritize the social services, the Sitan encourages the donor community to continue to find transitional financing mechanisms that cushion women and children from hardships and reduce vulnerability.
“If there was ever a time when we needed the support from our local and international development partners, it is now,” said Hon. Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, the Minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation. “We call on our local and international partners to support the women and children of Zimbabwe against this background of numerous challenges”.
Developed through combined effort of Government Ministries, civil society, academia, UN agencies and children themselves, the Sitan will be a powerful reference tool to monitor changes in the situation of children and women in Zimbabwe.
“Our progress as a Government should be measured by how successfully we have been in helping women and children, especially the poorest and most vulnerable women and children to realize their rights,” said Honourable Deputy Prime Minister, Thokozani Khupe. “We must consider this Situational Analysis of Women and Children as a blue print for collective action to support the most pressing development priority of our times. As Government, we remain committed to accelerate our efforts to meet the Millennium Development (MDGs) Goals. It is increasingly clear that women and children are central to the achievements of the majority of these goals.”
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