In Zambia, not a single day goes by without learning about a case of VAW. Reports here suggest that men perpetuate most of the VAW acts, a large percentage of which end in tragedy such as death or disability.
In an effort to address this challenge the Zambia YMCA has over the past few months held stakeholders’ meetings were new ideas were discussed and best practices shared. This was done to guide the YMCA in future interventions relating to issues of sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) in general and violence against women (VAW) in particular.
Zambia YMCA is one of two countries (the other being Kenya) implementing the three year #ARealManIs (RMI) project. The project is shaped by the African Alliance of YMCAs Transformative Masculinity programme. In Zambia, the goal of the project is to ensure that women and girls are safe and better protected against sexual and physical violence in project areas such as Kitwe and Lusaka.
The meetings brought together stakeholders from various civil society organisations, government, academia, and the private sector. Among the issues that came out of these interactions is the need to involve young men and boys in programmes that seek to redefine masculinity, leading to a change in perspectives and attitudes.
“There is need to employ approaches that focus not only on empowering women with knowledge and skills that they need to counter Gender Based Violence (GBV) in its various forms but also look into ways of establishing healthy relationships among women and men. One sure way of doing so is by advancing programmes that target mindset change resulting from socialisation,” asserted Dr Kusantha Thankaian, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Zambia, at a recent stakeholders meeting held in Lusaka.
Dr Thankaian notes that #ARealManIs provides an opportunity for stakeholders to explore new ways of addressing GBV in general and VAW in particular.
BBC Media Action, a charity formed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), said that their organisation looks forward to strengthened work relations between Zambia YMCA through the RMI project. Emmanuel Mulenga, a representative of the BBC Media Action, said the charity has been holding public discussions on SRHR issues affecting young people and would be happy to work with YMCA in this regard in future.
The Zambia Bloggers Network (ZBN) has challenged stakeholders to invest more in initiatives aimed at preventing VAW perpetuated in cyber spaces and through ICTs. Brenda Nglazi Zulu, Network’s Executive Director and founder of Africa Interactive Media (AIM), observed that technology, with all its advantages, has and continues to be used as a tool for perpetuating GBV in its various facets.
“It is good to note that the YMCA has seen the need to address acts of violence against women and girls through ICTs with the RMI project. As stakeholders as well as partners, ZBN stands ready to offer support both technical and otherwise to ensure the realisation of a violence free spaces for women and girls in Zambia.”
By Lillian Banda, Zambia YMCA