Churches in Zambia have joined together to fight the escalating problem of violence against women and children in their society.
The pledge was agreed to by the southern African country’s three main church umbrellas, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia; the Council of Churches in Zambia, representing traditional Protestant and Anglican churches and the Zambia Episcopal Conference, representing Roman Catholic bishops.
"We will respond to eradication of violence against women and children as a Southern Africa Development Community member," the churches stated in the declaration entitled Gender Injustice and Gender based Violence.
In 2008 the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Zambia’s report of 2007 said that violence against women and children had increased drastically in the country over the preceding few years.
EFZ executive director, the Rev. Pukuta Mwanza, called on the church to continue promoting gender equity and equality within all its structures, operations and practices.
Mwanza noted, "The Church is concerned that although some initiatives and efforts have been taken to address issues on gender injustice and gender-based violence, instances of the same are still present and perpetuated in the Church."
ZEC secretary general, the Rev. Joe Komakoma, called on the government to enact a bill of rights that would ensure social, economical and cultural rights.
Komakoma said "the Church will remain committed to facilitate gender mainstreaming in all its structures to promote gender sensitivity among the Christian community".
President Rupiah Banda commended the three church bodies for complementing government efforts to fight gender injustice with a plan to address gender-based violence and gender injustice.
He called on the churches to continue their fight against gender inequalities, injustice and violence. Banda said "government will remain committed to supporting the fight against gender-based violence".
The president added that his government has made major strides in establishing structures to promote gender justice and that Zambia has signed several international protocols aimed at promoting gender equity and gender equality.
In the same speech Banda, who has been strongly criticised by some church leaders for perceived inactivity in fighting corruption said, "Government does not want the Church to promote violence, anarchy or discrimination based on any form of an individual’s identity such as tribe, gender, political affiliation, religion, economic or social status."