Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Lawrence Sichalwe has called for effective involvement of traditional leaders in the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and spread of HIV/AIDS if the two vices are to be curtailed.
Mr Sichalwe said yesterday that GBV and HIV can be prevented in communities through effective involvement of chiefs in the fight against practices that are driving the two vices.
The Minister was speaking when he opened the Start Awareness Support Action (SASA) and Gender Based Violence Multidisciplinary Training for Traditional Leaders held at Nyamfinzi Hotel in Chipata.
He commended Zambia Centre for Communication (ZCCP) for initiating the SASA training for traditional rulers as it would help them to get involved in the fight against GBV and other abuses.
Mr Sichalwe said government, particularly President Edgar Lungu, appreciates the investments ZCCP is making in building capacity of traditional leaders in the response to GBV using evidence based methodologies such as SASA.
The Minister noted that in trying to strengthen response the SASA approach that ZCCP is implementing is encouraging traditional leaders to establish a village Anti-GBV Chiefdom Secretariat that will shorten the distance for survivors to access support for people out GBV services.
“These methodologies aim at consolidating a critical mass of support for this movement to end these social vices but also improve coordination of GBV case management so that all perpetrators are held accountable while seeking justice for the survivors,” he said.
Mr Sichalwe said President Lungu appreciates efforts that partners like the ZCCP are undertaking to involve traditional leaders in the fight against GBV.
He said this is because the head of state believes GBV and HIV can be prevented in communities through traditional rulers that are taking a leading role in the fight.
“He further commended the traditional leaders in Eastern Province for their contribution in the fight against GBV.
Mr Sichalwe also called for enhanced child protection at community level.
“It is also important that communities have some safe guards for prevention of child abuse through establishment of committees such as child protection committees,” he said.
Mr Sichalwe expects to see chiefs attending the training to increase knowledge regarding GBV identification, response and coordinated referral for GBV survivors to access quality and timely post GBV services.
“Share more accurate and in depth understanding of formal procedures that are there to be followed when responding to GBV and increased awareness on HIV/GBV in all the communities through community sensitisations,” he said.
He said in line with the year’s theme on the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism against GBV, “Orange The World: Fund, Respond, Prevent and Collect” his Ministry aims to prioritise the advancement of prevention and response to GBV at community level through increased coordination.
“A community that tolerates GBV will affect the development of the whole nation as survivors of GBV may not realise the full potential and contribute to the development of the country,” he said.
Mr Sichalwe observed that initiatives such as the one supported by ZCCP and many others are very important and need full government blessings.
“I am looking forward to increased multi-disciplinary prevention and response to GBV and HIV at community levels just as the case at district level. I am hopeful that this training will contribute towards a critical mass of support of the human capital the country desperately needs in responding to HIV and GBV.
And ZCCP Deputy Chief of parte Doreen Manda commended Government for making concerted effort in the fight against GBV through its key line Ministries like the Ministry of Health, Zambia Police, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services and the Judiciary.
Ms Manda said throughout the period of 16 Days of Activism, Ministry of Health has been supported by the project to conduct the mobile outreach activities in various communities.
“From this training, the people trained will be expected to join the teams in the communities where the mobile OSC activities are being conducted. I wish to thank the American People through USAID and PEPFAR for funding the USAID Stop GBV project being implemented by ZCCP Kwatu,”she said.