Our Girls, Our Future: Building Synergy to End Violence Against Girls in Zambia

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With Equality Now’s help, the coalition was awarded a three year grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women for a multi-sectoral project aimed at preventing and better addressing violence against adolescent girls in Zambia.

“Defilement,” or the rape of minors—of girls in particular—is rampant in Zambia, and perpetrators range from complete strangers to teachers and close family members. Equality Now’s involvement in Zambia began in 2007 when, through its Adolescent Girls Legal Defense Fund (AGLDF), it assisted with the case of Mary, a 13 year old girl who was raped by her teacher.

Sara Longwe, Equality Now’s Zambian consultant, convened a coalition of Zambian groups working to address sexual violence against schoolgirls in Zambia in various sectors, including health and legal services, media and awareness raising and youth empowerment. The aim of the coalition is to call for better response in all sectors to such cases, and to monitor the Zambian government’s response to Mary’s case. A central part of AGLDF’s strategic vision is to build capacity and coordination among Zambian organizations to better address violence against girls, and so Equality Now decided to bring these organizations together to pool their efforts towards their common goal of eliminating violence against women and girls.

With Equality Now’s help, the coalition was awarded a three year grant from the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women for a multi-sectoral project aimed at preventing and better addressing violence against adolescent girls in Zambia.

The goal of the project is to create zero tolerance for sexual violence against girls by supporting and coordinating the efforts and building the capacity of the coalition, which was named Tisunge Ana Athu Akazi (Lets Protect Our Girl Children) Coalition (TAAAC), and encouraging and supporting efforts of the Zambian government in this regard. The project aims to ensure that all interventions are girl-centered. Equality Now envisions that by the end of the project girls will be empowered to claim their rights, and that a better system of response and prevention of violence against adolescent girls will be instituted in Zambia.

The project aims to achieve the following:

  1. A coordinated response to support the existing community mechanisms to identify, refer and report sexual violence against adolescent girls, including by building the capacity of coalition members and helping establish a system of communications between them.
  2. Legal reform to ensure that the legal system is more responsive to violence committed against adolescent girls, including by training lawyers, conducting strategic litigation on key issues and encouraging legal reform through undertaking relevant research and engaging key stakeholders.
  3. Empower girls to prevent, identify and report sexual violence by creating a conducive school environment, including through conducting girl-only safe spaces in schools, engaging boys in ending violence against girls, and better provision of health and legal serivces to girls in the safe spaces.
  4. Improved awareness and attitudes among target communities on sexual violence against girls, including through trainings of journalists, development of public service announcements, production and performance of street plays, radio shows and a documentary on the issue.