Media mission from Sweden visits Zimbabwe

20 March 2018
Media team being briefed on the Gender Based Violence programme on arrival at Makoni One Stop Centre

Harare, Zimbabwe, 20 March, 2018 – A group of freelance journalists from Sweden were in the country to see first hand Swedish support to the people of Zimbabwe, especially in the area of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

Sida – The Swedish International Development Agency - has been a long standing partner of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for years now supporting various SRHR programmes with strong interest on addressing the problem of Gender Based Violence (GBV). According to the 2015 ZDHS, 35% of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical violence since age 15 and 14% of have experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives. Among women aged 15 to 49 who ever experienced sexual violence, 55% reported that the perpetrator was their current husband/partner and 30% reported their former husband/partner.

The UNFPA Gender Programme seek to increase availability and use of GBV services by survivors and perpetrators of GBV and reducing tolerance for GBV in communities. The key thrust of the programme is reaching survivors of GBV with comprehensive services through provision of health care, psychosocial support and legal aid. The focus of the program also includes reducing tolerance for GBV in communities including mobilising men and young people to support gender equality, GBV prevention and increasing awareness of gender responsive laws and services, and women’s rights.

During their visit to Zimbabwe the journalists visited a number of Sida supported programmes including the Makoni One Stop Centre at Rusape General Hospital, about 200km outside Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare. The One Stop Centre offers comprehensive GBV services (clinical and non-clinical under one roof). The OSC provides multi-sectoral and coordinated services (health, psychosocial support, legal and police services) to survivors under one roof.  OSCs were piloted in Makoni in 2009 due to survivor’s failure to access a complete service package due to travel and costs related to accessing services. In most communities where services exist there is limited scope, comprehensiveness and capacity to fully assist the survivor.

To date with support of the Government of Sweden and other the governments of Britain and Ireland UNFPA has set up four OSCs in Harare, Manicaland, Midlands and Matebeleland South Provinces. The target is to expand to all provinces. In 2018 there are plans to set up at least two more. Cumulatively in 2016 and 2017 a total of 34,675 survivors accessed services at the OSCs. The OSCs have improved the speed in processing cases as services are under one roof, reduced costs for survivors and increased coordination amongst service providers.

Speaking during the media visit Embassy of Sweden in Harare Communications Officer Martin Buch Larsen said that the media delegation is the first official journalist visit from Sweden in many years.

“We are very pleased to see more Swedish journalists arriving to Zimbabwe to meet and listen to beneficiaries benefitting from the Swedish supported programmes and projects. The journalists’ stories will eventually reach hundreds of thousands of readers and listeners – and will influence ordinary Swedes understanding of our development cooperation in Zimbabwe”, said Mr. Larsen.

UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Esther Muia said she hoped the visit by the journalists would help leverage for more support for the women and young people of Zimbabwe.

“The Government of Sweden has supported our work to improve access to Sexual Reproductive Health services for women and young people, prevention of Gender Based Violence violence and response for many years now. We are very grateful to them and look forward to greater cooperation in the future,” said Dr. Muia.

By Bertha Shoko