We are excited today as we kick off this year’s Walk to fight inequality in Zambia and indeed in the world during this Global 16 Days Campaign, the longest-running campaign to end violence against women, and all vulnerable people. Am sure that we are all agreed that we need to put a stop to gender-based violence and harassment against each other in Zambia.
This crisis of violence against women, children, persons with disability and now to some great extent men, is a great shame to all of us living in our beloved country Zambia. It goes against our African values and tradition which sometimes we accuse of being the root cause of the vice. We are afraid to own up and realise that the inequality that we have created in our socio-economic and political structures is responsible for the increased violence we see. We grew up being taught that as men and boys we must respect women and protect children. We were taught to never, raise a finger against women and even in the wars and fights we had with one another in the past, women and children were not killed-Their lives were always spared.
What we see in the world today are many distortions of the contemporary era: the manipulation and deformation of democracy, freedom, justice; the loss of social community and history; selfishness and indifference toward the common good; the prevalence of a market logic based on profit and the culture of waste; unemployment, pandemics, racism, poverty; the disparity of rights and its aberrations such as slavery, human trafficking, women subjugated and forced not to choose life, and the list goes on. These are the issues breading inequality and violence!
Why have we lost our great values of respect for the dignity of every person? Our communities, our homes are becoming dangerous spaces for women and children, instead of being safe haven where they find peace and joy. If we can’t create security, peace and joy in our own families, where will peace in the Country come from? The violence we perpetuate in our families is slowly getting into the wider Zambian society. It finds itself in political violence that Zambia has been witnessing, especially during elections.
Together we can stop this. We are here today to be united under the theme: “ Enough is Enough.” Because truly we have had enough of physical violence against women and children. If we can stop this violence, then we can steadily but surely tackle social, economic and psychological violence that has also taken root, and destabilising our connections with each other and with the ecosystem.
To you, all gathered here today and indeed to all the people of Zambia, especially the men. Let us go back and reconnect ourselves with the Ubuntu Philosophy which is a way of life that expresses the reality of “I am because you are”. It is inextricably intertwined with one’s wellbeing and the happiness of others. You cannot be happy and having everything to yourself when your neighbour is hungry and suffering when your wife is battered and crying out to heaven for redress!
In Ubuntu philosophy, competition is not the lifeblood of society. Rather it is cooperation and interdependence that is the lifeblood of society. Being is interconnected, with the past, present and future. These are seen as one because those gone before us- our ancestors have an impact upon us and those yet to be born matter a lot and they impose obligations on us who are living in the present. – We have lost this….and so we turn violent thinking of ourselves only! At the expense of others!
I call upon today to join this movement aiming at breaking the cycle of violence. It is you who must be positive role models to your sons, daughters and mentor and guide them in their journey to adulthood. Play your part in raising awareness around the dignity of women, children and persons with disability.
As I said earlier on, inequality which is fast taking grip of the nation is also a cause of gender-based violence. - The haves and have not gap is growing, because the haves are eating what belongs to the poor. This is dangerous because high levels of inequality are associated with “economic instability, corruption, financial crises, increased crime and poor physical and mental health and in the end, everyone suffers the consequences. When we have 40 percent of our population living in poverty is not ok; people not having access to quality health care is not ok; people failing to afford basic human needs is not ok. We need to close this gap of inequality. Political parties wanting to take power and rule Zambia must pay attention to increasing inequality in Zambia.
This; “I walk for equality” and “ I walk for gender justice” is a campaign that will complement a wider 365-days, year-round education, awareness and prevention that Caritas Zambia in partnership with other civil society organisation will continue to undertake. Let us find a practical solution to fight inequality because the only way towards a fair and sustainable future for all, involves “New Social Contract”, which allows young people to live in dignity; women to have the same prospects and opportunities as men; to protect the vulnerable, and the Zambia we want which ensures that power, wealth and opportunities are shared more broadly and fairly at the national and local level.
We need new social safety nets, including universal health coverage, boosted investment in public services, and, to reverse long-standing inequalities, affirmative action programmes and other policies to address inequalities in gender, race or ethnicity.
Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis says is the way to build a better, more just and peaceful world. This should be with the contribution of all, both individuals and institutions. We must promote peace and say no to globalised indifference and exclusion of others. We are one!
Let us move together, a nation resolute and above all united, to end gender-based violence and femicide forever. Let’s put a stop to the growing gap of inequality in Zambia. ‘We walk together, or we fall apart’
I thank you. God bless you,
God bless Zambia
Given this day of 28th November 2020