Sexual and gender-based violence is widespread in Zimbabwe, Africa and the world.

Women and girls are most at risk to the extent that at any point in time, a woman or a girl is experiencing physical, emotional and sexual violence, typically by people they know. According to the data provided by the Population Council, in East and Southern Africa, children age 14 and younger constitute the biggest share of those who seek help for SGBV at health facilities and law enforcement agencies.

Given Africa’s socio-historical experience of internal conflict, displacement, famine and forced mobility, we find women and children at heightened risk of violence – including SGBV. This is particularly true of women and children refugees in humanitarian settings where basic legal protections are often absent.

Important work on harmful practices has been carried out continually by UN Women, UNICEF and UNFPA across regions and this seminal work shows that millions of children continue to suffer from various forms of harmful practices, including female genital mutilation, early and forced marriage, breast ironing, son preference, female infanticide, virginity testing, honour crimes, bonded labour, forced feeding and nutritional taboos, accusation of witchcraft, as well as a great number of other less known practices.

A 2012 report titled Protecting children from harmful practices in plural legal systems had a special focus on Africa and noted that harmful practices in the continent may be traditional or emerging, but generally have some cultural, social or religious underpinning. Common for most harmful practices is that they have devastating consequences on the child’s life, development, health, education and protection.

Levels of Harmful Practices perpetrated against young women such as female genital mutilation and early childhood marriages are also alarmingly high with the former having no health benefits, and the latter retarding the development, empowerment and sexual reproductive health rights of those who fall victim to the practise.

The Spotlight Initiative

Our mission is to eliminate all forms of gender-based violence among women and girls.

Launched in 2017, the Spotlight Initiative is a global movement that acknowledges that the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals rests in large part upon the establishments of gender equality and women’s empowerment. A converted commitment to invest in these two critical developmental pillars has been pledged by the world’s nations.

The Spotlight Initiative will deploy targeted, large-scale investments in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Pacific and the Caribbean, aimed at achieving significant improvements in the lives of women and girls. Zimbabwe is one of the eight countries in Africa to benefit from this transformative initiative.


The Spotlight Initiative in Zimbabwe

The overall vision of the Spotlight Initiative in Zimbabwe is that women and girls realize their full potential in a violence-free, gender-responsive and inclusive Zimbabwe.

The Spotlight Initiative will directly contribute to Zimbabwe’s achievement of three of the country’s prioritized Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goal 5 on Gender Equality, Goal 3 on good health and well-being and Goal 16 on inclusive and peaceful societies. Steps towards ending violence against women and girls lie in prevention through education, empowerment and advocacy in communities, protection of victims and the vulnerable and lastly the provision of services that work for women and girls who experience gender – based violence and provide a safe haven free from judgement, ridicule and stigma.

SGBV-HP and SRHR’s Symposia Series