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by Dr. Festo P. Kavishe at the official opening of the UNICEF Collection
and the Launch of Women and Children's Rights in Zimbabwe
Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF)
November 11, 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen
behalf of UNICEF, I would like to begin by saying how pleased I am to
be here and how grateful we are to the University of Zimbabwe for hosting
Today, we are here
to celebrate the opening of the UNICEF Collection in the international
section of the University Library as well as launch a new report on women
and children’s rights. Both signify the importance we at UNICEF place
on collaboration, especially with academic and research institutes to
further a better understanding of the situation of women and children.
There is no doubt that UNICEF would not be the global organization it
is to day, and have the credibility it does, if it had not been able to
partner and rely on the intellectual and evidence based research done
at places like the University of Zimbabwe.
We realize more and
more that the world is a complicated place and the impact on women and
children, is in turn, no less complicated. To actually be able to advocate
effectively, programme productively, and produce tangible and measured
results to improve their overall well-being, requires an investment of
time, research and knowledge that is the foundation of academic learning.
For many years, UNICEF
and the University of Zimbabwe have collaborated. Different faculties
from the Law Faculty to the Institute of Development Studies, to the Medical
school have been crucial allies in surveys, studies and reports that have
been produced to identify indicators, situation analysis and baselines,
which have both fed into a global picture on the state of the world’s
women and children, but also guided our work here in the country.
Today, after many
years of housing a small library within the UNICEF office, we are very
happy to be able to share it with a wider audience by moving it here to
the University. We hope the information contained in the collection will
supplement many of the materials the University already has in health,
nutrition, environmental sanitation, child protection, education and HIV
and AIDS. We are very grateful for the University Library staff, who have
so willing to dedicated their time and energy to making order of our many
hundreds of documents and compiling it into a working and useful collection.
Our hope is that now students, academic staff, members of the UN agencies
and partner organizations can access the collection and will find the
material useful in their own research.
It also complies with
the UN directive that designates the University of Zimbabwe as the UN’s
official depository library. We hope, that as we are doing today, we can
continue to keep the collection updated, with new reports, studies and
surveys as they become available. We also hope to continue to partner
with different researchers and academia within the University.
as we mark the official opening of the UNICEF Collection, we would also
like to launch a new report called Children and Women’s Rights in Zimbabwe.
It is a landmark study that provides a critical analysis of the theory
and practice of international women and children’s conventions in the
country. The report is also extremely timely as we celebrate this year,
the 15th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, when 179 heads of state met at the World Summit on Children in
1989 and adopted the principles enshrined in this document, that has since
become the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world.
I will not go into
detail but will allow my colleagues here from the Ministry of Justice,
the Child and Law Foundation and the Law Faculty, who actually worked
on the document to present the key findings. As the report outlines, the
country’s law in the whole is in conformity with the Convention on the
Rights of the child but much more needs to be done to prioritize its implementation
on the ground. I hope now we can work together to follow the very clear
recommendations that have been outlined to realize the rights of all women
I would like to thank
the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, for helping
to make this research possible and their collaboration in sharing information
and facilitating the process. I also want to give credit to the authors,
whose hard work has produced a very valuable document. It has already
begun to be used as part of a global legislative review UNICEF is undertaking,
to better understand how laws and policy can better serve to protect the
rights of women and children. Regionally, a similar process is underway
to see not just how individual country legislation but also regional bodies
such as the AU and SADC can influence the rights of women and children.
Zimbabwe is far ahead of its neighbors in this analysis and the study
will serve as an example to guide them in their own process.
I would like to conclude
by once again thank the University of Zimbabwe, but especially the library
staff, who have provided so much support in moving the library here and
also for hosting this event. I would like to present them with a small
token of our appreciation of some UNICEF T-shirts.
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