LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL VOLUNTEER POLICY ON INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY 2022
REMARKS BY UN RESIDENT COORDINATOR, MS BEATRICE MUTALI -LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL VOLUNTEER POLICY ON INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY 2022
- Hon. Doreen Sefuke Mwamba, MP, Minister of Community Development and Social Services
- Ms Angela Chomba Kawandami, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services
- Senior Government Officials
- Representatives of Volunteer-Involving Organisations
- Members of the UN Family in Zambia
- Esteemed Volunteers
- The media
- Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning to you all.
It is with great pleasure that I join you today to celebrate International Volunteer Day, commemorated annually on 5th December to recognize and promote the tireless work, not just of United Nations Volunteers, but of all volunteers across the globe.
This year’s theme, Solidarity through Volunteering, aptly embraces our commitment to volunteers in Zambia and beyond. The collective humanity and invaluable contributions of volunteers to sustainable human development continues to shape the progress of communities throughout Zambia and beyond.
The UN General Assembly adopted the Resolution on "Integrating volunteering into peace and development: to recognise that volunteerism can be a powerful means for implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and welcomes the integration of volunteerism in the 2030 Agenda and in related key documents.
Rising inequalities throughout the world call for need to work together to find common solutions. Volunteers, drawn together by solidarity, develop solutions to urgent development challenges and for the common good.
Volunteering is where compassion meets solidarity. Both share the same root values – supporting each other from a position of trust, humility, respect, and equality. Volunteerism plays a central role in strengthening people-state relationships as well as promoting better governance, helping build more equal and inclusive societies, and fostering stability.
Today, through the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, we recognise an estimated one billion volunteers who offer their skills, time and enthusiasm to communities across the world to contribute to changing the world and transforming nations.
Nearly 8,000 UN Volunteers currently serve with over 40 UN entities around the world offering support in climate change, healthcare, education as well as giving marginalized people more opportunities to improve their own futures.
I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to recognize and spotlight the over 100 hardworking UN Volunteers in Zambia, working across the UN system in partnership with the Government of Zambia. Almost 80 percent of them are National Volunteers spread across the 10 Provinces.
Every day, volunteers demonstrate passion, selflessness, and commitment as they work to enhance the lives of others. They provide practical support ranging from assisting vulnerable children and adults, to giving advice on sophisticated technical and legal issues. Each one brings a specific set of skills to the tasks they take on.
For example, in the education sector, volunteers are working to train educators, raise literacy levels, and improve subject proficiency of
school-going children in remote communities while those in human security and settlement reach out to Refugees, offering them humanitarian assistance. The UN’s focus on climate action continues to ensure that volunteers sensitise the public on conservation and restoration practices and ensure that people live in harmony with the environment while in the health sector, volunteers are often the first line of defence against disease outbreaks.
Allow me to cite March 2020 when Zambia recorded its first COVID-19 cases. Deserving special mention are the courageous 833 Community Youth Volunteers who were recruited by Government and the UN system to provide preventive COVID-19 education and information and specifically drive the Risk Communication and Community Engagement campaigns in communities in Lusaka, Chilanga, Kafue, Chirundu, Katete and Chipata. Through them, many people were reached with life-saving messages and inspired to act in preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Such responsiveness drives social change. On behalf of the UN in Zambia, I commend the volunteers in this country who have shown commitment to deliver development and contribute towards changing people’s lives. Well done to all volunteers!
Honourable Minister, Let me now turn to the National Volunteer Policy. With the development of the National Volunteer Policy, it is clear that Government with the UN System in Zambia aim to strengthen the working environment for volunteers. This is a demonstration of the interest to help create a 21st Century social contract that is more inclusive and responsive to the needs of communities. Let me, therefore, congratulate the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services for the work done in developing this comprehensive and innovative National Volunteer Policy. The policy represents a landmark achievement in Zambia’s journey of strengthening collaboration with the local volunteers’ network and enhancing volunteer action across the country.
The UN system in Zambia will continue welcoming volunteers and involving them in its work as change agents. It is through the volunteers that citizen voices are amplified, ensuring that the concerns of the people are at the heart of our work and that of other volunteer-involving organisations in Zambia.
Honourable Minister, Distinguished Guests, on behalf of the UN System in Zambia, allow me to commend contributions made by international, national and community volunteer-involving organisations whose efforts complement the Government’s work in all areas of sustainable human development. Volunteerism is a powerful force, and an important part of society.
Globally, volunteerism remains an important vehicle for shaping and advancing development. Let me recognise the Government Ministries and Departments, volunteer-involving organisations, associations from higher institutions of learning for the important role they play in supporting volunteerism.
As I close, let me leave you with a quote the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres in his message for the 2022 International Volunteer Day:
"Today and every day, let us take inspiration from all those who, through acts of solidarity large and small, improve our world. And let us resolve to do our part to forge a better future for all”.
I THANK YOU.