Japanese company to help deal with GBV in rural Zimbabwe as effects of climate change bite.

– There was a heat-related increase in violence across all income groups, the largest increases were among lower-income and rural households – researchers. 

John Cassim

UNFPA Country Representative Miranda Tabifor, 2nd from left seated next to Monica Mutsvangwa Minister of Women Affairs, during the launch of the Women at the Centre in Harare.

Harare, Zimbabwe – A Japanese pharmaceutical company, Takeda, has availed US$ 1. 3 million to help fight Gender Based Violence (GBV), for the next four years in Bubi, a rural district in Matabeleland North in Zimbabwe.

Speaking with ConserveZim during the ‘Women at the Centre’ project launch, officials acknowledged that one of the main factors contributing to gender-based violence against women, including those in Zimbabwe, is climate change.

Yamanaka Shiniki, the Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe said the program will allow the Zimbabwean government through the Ministry of Women Affairs, to holistically deal with GBV.

“Climate change as well as other socio-economic issues that give birth to GBV, will be dealt with, in this program which is not being run by the government but the Takeda a leading Pharmaceutical company in Japan, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),” the Japanese envoy said.

GBV can result from land ownership, heatwaves, and starvation brought on by drought.

Men get angry and tense due to their inability to provide for their families and the resulting hunger when severe weather events like floods, cyclones, landslides, or even drought force them to stay at home.

Even in prosperous times, hitting up your spouse is customary in rural areas. Most men see it as a right, as part of their authority over their wives, to beat them when they wish.

Women have, on the one hand, internalised and accepted this as a man’s entitlement. 

A 1 degree Celsius increase in the average yearly temperature was linked to a spike of more than 6.3% in instances of physical and sexual domestic violence across three South Asian countries, according to a study published in August of last year in JAMA Psychiatry.

Michelle Bell, a professor of environmental health at Yale University and a co-author of the study, was quoted by The Guardian, as having said, “many potential pathways, both physiological and sociological, through which higher temperature could affect risk of violence.” 

Extreme heat can lead to crop failures, destroy infrastructure, eat into economies, trap people indoors, and render them unable to work, and all these factors can place families under extreme stress and push up violence rates. 

The researchers found that although there was a heat-related increase in violence across all income groups, the largest increases were among lower-income and rural households. 

Women at the Centre Project will focus on providing increased support to survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) through quality case management, according to UNFPA.

“We don’t do an isolated program, our program is integrated, that’s why the program says ‘women at the center.’ If you go to Bubi district, it is definitely affected by climate change.

We will be looking at climate-related actions, environmental actions, so it is going to be a holistic approach,” UNFPA Country representative, Miranda Tabitor, told ConserveZim.

“As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development we are reminded that Gender Based Violence remains the unfinished of this important agenda,” added Miranda Tabifor. 

Meanwhile, the program that was launched in Harare will also benefit Indonesia, El Salvador, Azerbaijan, and Madagascar.

GBV is a huge problem in Zimbabwe affecting many women and girls. At least 49% of married adolescent girls and women aged 15-49 years have experienced some form of emotional, physical, or sexual violence committed by their current or most recent husband or partner.

Only 39% of these victims seek help owing to gaps created when the help provided does not match with the needs required by the victims on the ground.

“It’s heart-warming to note that we shall be piloting the Case Management system in Bubi a rural District of Matabeleland Province,” said Minister of Women Affairs, Monica Mutsvangwa.

She added: “Piloting in a district such as Bubi will inform us of the realities faced by survivors accessing services, especially in hard-to-reach areas. This gives a true reflection that we can replicate across the country in line with the Country’s Vision of leaving no one and no place behind.”

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