The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children commends the strong commitment and efforts of the Government of Zambia to end Violence Against Children and stresses the need to invest more in child protection

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence Against Children, Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, concluded her first visit to Zambia at the invitation of the Government.

15 April 2024
A photo showing a groupvboys at a gathering.
UNICEF Zambia/2024/Adam

Lusaka, 15 April – Throughout her 7-day mission, the SRSG had a first-hand engagement with the leadership of the country and stakeholders on efforts to end all forms of violence against children in Zambia, which is a Pathfinding country to end Violence Against Children since 2016.

The SRSG met with the Government and a variety of stakeholders including His Excellency the President, the Vice President, Cabinet Ministers, Provincial and District authorities, Members of  Parliament, House of Chiefs, Cooperating Partners, National Human Rights Commission, Civil Society Organizations, traditional leaders and media. She also undertook various on-site visits of programmes and institutions engaging directly with children, youth and women as well as front line social workers.

These interactions helped her explore areas of collaboration with the Government and partners to strengthen and scale up integrated child protection systems that are accessible to all children and their caregivers, leaving no child behind (children in street situations, children on the move, children with disabilities, children in conflict with the law, children living in poor and rural areas among others).

“The commitment and mobilization of the Government and all stakeholders I met during my visit, are clear,” stated the SRSG. During her meeting with His Excellency the President, Hakainde Hichilema, he reiterated his pledge to end child marriage and other forms of violence against children by 2030.

“Ending Violence Against Children is a priority for the Government of the Republic of Zambia. This country has a young population, so it is imperative to invest in children’s protection and well-being. What is at stake is the human capital of this country which is essential for its socio-economic development,” emphasized Hon. Doreen Mwamba, Minister of Community Development and Social Services.

The enactment of the Children’s Code Act, the amendment of the Marriage Act and the repealing of the Juveniles Act as well as various policies and programmes aiming at ensuring social protection, access to child and gender-sensitive education, health and justice, demonstrate this commitment.

Despite having progressive laws and policies that protect children from different forms of violence, Zambia is still experiencing challenges to ensure a protective environment. Violence against children remains a major concern and a daily reality for many children in Zambia. According to the Violence Against Children Study (2014). About 41 per cent of girls and 49 per cent of boys report having experienced or witnessed physical violence at household level and about 65 per cent of children indicate they have been bullied in school. Moreover, child marriage continues to have high prevalence with 29 per cent of girls and 2.8 per cent of boys married by age 18. Teenage pregnancy has remained stagnant at 29 per cent. There are also challenges with data availability and accessibility, coordination, and fragmentation of service provision.

"There is a need to accelerate the implementation of the Children’s Code Act to better coordinate the efforts, and to invest more in integrated child protection services which involve many sectors (social welfare, child protection, education, health, home affairs, labour, tourism and justice) at central, provincial and district levels. Increased budget allocation for core child protection services is critical to address the insufficient numbers of social workers the country has. Prevention of violence makes economic sense as it will have high return on the development of the country.” highlighted the SRSG.

The SRSG also stressed the need to listen to and involve more children. “Children, who represent about 53 per cent of the population, cannot be seen as a problem to solve, but as an asset to invest in. And they must be part of the solution to end Violence Against Children. “

To conclude, the SRSG stated that less than six years remain to achieve the implementation of the 2030 Agenda – Sustainable Development Goals. “The clock is ticking!  Coordinated and sustainable actions to end Violence Against Children by 2030, are needed more than ever,” she highlighted while reiterating her support to the Government, in close collaboration with the UNCT.


About Pathfinding:

Pathfinding Countries | UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children

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