WOMEN AND GIRLS ARE AN INDISPENSABLE AND EQUAL PART OF OUR COMMON HUMANITY.

“Women have fulfilled their responsibilities with humility and human dignity and strong spirituality. I have personally witnessed these heroic and sacrificial contributions in my native country of Zambia and Southern Africa region during decades of the fight for freedom and independence from colonial and racist domination, Victory and liberation would not have been won without the vigilant and steadfast contributions of women in these nations and region.”


Below Remarks presented by Ambassador Isaiah Zimba CHABALA, Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations and Humanitarian; Founder and President, Visionary Empowerment & Divine Empowerment Mission
during the Opening Session of the “Peace, Women, Security and Secularism” event in NYC on April 11, 2019.


Distinguished Guests and Dear Friends:

At the outset, I am grateful to the organizers of this important event for the kind invitation. Special thanks to Ms Bircan Ünver, Host, Founder-President and Representative of The Light Millennium to the United Nations Department of Global Communications (UN-DGC-CSO).

It is a privilege and pleasure for me to participate, not least because the theme of this event, “Peace, Women, Security and Secularism”, in the context of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women and Peace and Security and In support of SDGs #5, #16 and #17 is relevant to my spiritual calling and commitment to Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls, as I will shortly share my intimate story and experience.

In this regard I am delighted to acknowledge the presence and remarkable contributions of our Keynote Speaker and a longstanding friend of mine, His Excellency Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary and High Representative of the United Nations and Founder of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace.

He has been a consistent and exemplary advocate for the realization of the rights of women and girls, especially following the adoption of the historic United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000 when he was President of the Security Council. A special tribute to Ambassador Chowdhury for his steadfast and strong support.

Distinguished colleagues and friends, let me reaffirm my conviction that Gender Equality and Empowering Women and Girls is the central moral challenge of our time. Women have historically demonstrated their commitment to preventing conflicts as well as building and sustaining peace and security and development in all societies globally. Their contributions, individually and collectively, have been indispensable. 

Women have fulfilled their responsibilities with humility and human dignity and strong spirituality. I have personally witnessed these heroic and sacrificial contributions in my native country of Zambia and Southern Africa region during decades of the fight for freedom and independence from colonial and racist domination, Victory and liberation would not have been won without the vigilant and steadfast contributions of women in these nations and region.

Spirituality and moral, ethical values inspire women’s vision and action and should be highlighted. They transcend differences of nationality, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class and political affiliation. They are based on doing what is right and on our common and shared humanity.

Spirituality and moral, ethical values are thus cardinal to the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and Sustainable Development Goals. Women and girls must be permitted to enjoy all the rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


In his Nobel Peace Prize lecture in 1950, Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche, then Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs, the pioneer of United Nations Peace-Keeping Operations (UNPKO) stated the following, and I quote:

Peace to have meaning for many who have known only suffering in both peace and war, must be translated into bread and rice, shelter, health and education, as well as freedom and human dignity“, end of quotation. 

This is the holistic and vital perspective of peace, the principal objective of our indispensable United Nations. There is no sustainable peace and security without development. Nor can there be sustainable development without peace and security.

Therefore, we should make no peace with injustice, in all its forms, against the human condition, particularly the disrespect, inhumane discrimination and violence perpetrated against women and girls, who represent half of humanity and are equal with men in the image of our Creator God of many names. Indeed what is Good for Gender is Also Good for Sustainable Peace and Security and for Progress in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.

It is our solemn responsibility to step up, speak up and act out in solidarity with women for gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, as enshrined in various United Nations human rights instruments and resolutions, All of us have the power to act, individually and collectively. Together we can and will make the change and difference women and humanity need. 

There is absolutely no place for silence, indifference and inaction, especially in the current complex and challenging times calling for our women and girls, secular and religious, to step forward in leadership and project vision and action based on our common spirituality, shared ethical and spiritual values. Spirituality is a common foundation of our one humanity that resides in the heart. It  has the potential to motivate all human beings to work together harmoniously and dynamically towards a shared vision.


In his message to the Moral Imperative Event to End Extreme Poverty, held on September 24, 2015, Former U.N. Secretary-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon articulated this conviction in the following quotation “There are moments in history when our humanity fills us with hope and courage; when we discover our common spirituality and values, and build a shared vision of where the future must lead. We are at such a moment today – and we must seize it.”, end of quotation.

Since then, on September 24, 2016, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Agenda 2030 The Future We Want and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is evident that our common spirituality, with shared ethical and spiritual values, is indispensable to the successful implementation of the SDGs.

Dear Friends, I would like to conclude with my intimate personal testimony and experience. Speaking about experience, Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold said, and I quote: “Never, for the sake of peace or quiet. deny your own experience“. I received my spiritual calling fourteen months after my formal retirement as a career foreign service officer and former Ambassador of Zambia to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Until then, my prayer and meditation was: ” Dear God, as I move on my spiritual journey, let it not be what I want to do, but what You want me to do.” 

In awaiting the call I became involved with helping widows and orphans affected by HIV/AIDS in Zambia, placing them into fee paying boarding schools and vocational skills centres, I served with a female friend and founder of the organization, International Trust for the Education of Zambian Orphans, as Executive Officer. This  was a spiritually uplifting experience, helping the least, last and most vulnerable persons in society. Later on, I received my calling, based on religious scripture, notably the Book of Prophet Isaiah 1:17:

 “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow“. 


I then established the Visionary Skills Training Center in 2005 at Mansa, Luapula Province, with financial grants from UNESCO, Free play Foundation, Sisters of Charity and material computer donations fron Non-Profit Compurter Inc. More than 500 have been trained in knitting, entrepreneurship, Weza Pioneer Micro-enterprises, and computer skills. These graduates have been empowered to contribute to their families, their communities, the national economy, and a better world. They also have the opportunity to live with decency, dignity, and a sense of self-esteem.

In addition, the Visionary Women Empowerment Centre remains committed to providing community services and sustained support to the orphans, vulnerable children, widows and youths in the communities as it has been doing in previous years. 

The organization officially opened a Youth Centre in Mansa, in April 2014, as a subset of Visionary Empowerment, a network of individuals, training centres and schools dedicated to empowering women and girls, in particular widows and orphans, who are the most vulnerable members of society, as well as at risk youths and those affected by HIV/AIDS, by offering training in skills and development of enterprises appropriate to and sustainable in rural communities, promoting gender equality, eradicating poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa and helping communities realize the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and, currently, the Sustainable Development Goals.

Women and girls are an indispensable and equal part of our one common humanity. To uphold the highest aspiration of women and girls as human beings requires all of us to see them with innate dignity and divinity. Policies do not give this to a person, but allow for its free unhindered expression. We should not stand on the sidelines as bystanders, in the causes of gender justice, racial justice, economic justice, ecological justice, gender and sexual orientation. 


We need deeper faith, courage and involvement to bring greater value, purpose and significance to our lives and common humanity. In the spirit of the African Ubuntu Culture: ” I am, because you are”.

Thank you. God bless you.

About Ambassador Isaiah Zimba CHABALA, Former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Zambia to the United Nations and Humanitarian; Founder and President, Visionary Empowerment & Divine Empowerment Mission

Is a former Zambian career foreign service officer and senior government official for thirty-one years.
Among other responsibilities, he served as: Under-Secretary Deputy
Permanent Secretary (Economics and Finance); Speech Writer to the
Prime Minister; Ambassador to the United Nations (New York and
Geneva) and to the European Union.
He serves on the boards of female-led non-governmental organizations
including: Global Alliance for Women’s Health; Innovation: Africa,
Cubraiti, and the Elikia Hope Foundation.
He is Senior Adviser to the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and
Global Concerns, and Recipient of the 2017 ” Spirit of the United
Nations” Award.
He is the Founder and President of Visionary Empowerment, a women
and girls empowerment organization, and Divine Empowerment
Mission, dedicated to capacity building and empowerment of vulnerable
groups.
Ambassador Chabala is a graduate of the University of Zambia (
Economics and French); St. Peter’s College, Oxford University, UK
(Foreign Service Studies); University of Bath. UK (Fiscal Studies); and
holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia
Is a former Zambian career foreign service officer and senior government official for thirty-one years.University, School of International and Public Affairs, New York City.

Photo Album of the Opening Session:
UNSCR 1325: On Peace and Women and Security, and Secularism-1

UNSCR 1325 & SECULARISM event Concept Note: 
WE AIM TO BRING BACK THE “SECULARISM” CONCEPT INTO THE DISCUSSION IN CORRELATION WITH THE UNSCR 1325 AND SDGs TO THE UN GROUND

Event photo creditDemet DEMIRKAYA, The Light Millennium

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