‘GENDER EQUALITY THERE ON PAPER’
9 March 2017
ZIMBABWE joined the rest of the world on Wednesday March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day which this year runs under the theme: Be Bold for Change.
To mark the celebrations, H-Metro interviewed people leading in their different genres who took time to reflect on the day, what it means to the women and girls of Zimbabwe and what the country has achieved in trying to emancipate women.
While Zimbabwe made a milestone achievement in enshrining issues of gender equality in a society where women have continued to lag behind in all aspects of life, people who spoke to H-Metro assert that there has been lack of implementation.
According to the new Constitution, Every woman has full and equal dignity of the person with men and this includes equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities but in reality, women have continued to lag behind, socially, politically and economically.
Here is what they had to say:
GOROMONZI WEST MP AND CHAIRPERSON FOR THE PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WOMEN AFFAIRS, GENDER AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, BEATRICE NYAMUPINGA:
“As we celebrate this day, I want to urge women not to be cry babies but to rightfully claim what belongs to them. The Constitution is clear on issues of gender equality and if our Government and people do not want to adhere, then we have a problem.
“For me the pillars were set in the Constitution and if they do not want to adhere to what it says then we should go out in the streets to rightfully claim what is ours,” she said.
Hon Nyamupinga adds that the road to gender equality is not a walk in the park as the African culture victimises any women who clamours for it.
“Given our cultural background, if you demand something as a woman, you seize to be African. You are called all sort of names, mukadzi wepi anoda kuenzana nevarume, are some of the statements that come with it yet the Constitution is clear.
“So we need to keep on claiming our space regardless of the name calling, once we do that, we are good to go. Implementation is a process and it is something that we need to work on together. The Constitution is clear, kutorerwa chingwa pamuromo hakusi nyore.”
She argued how young girls have been exposed to prostitution and sexual exploitation due to economic challenges and lack of empowerment.
“Prostitution has become rampant but what we need to address is not prostitution but its root causes. What drives girls and women into the streets where have they have been subjected to all sought of abuse?
“A woman needs to feed the family especially when men walk away and neglect the children. They do not have any capital to start any business and the only resource they have is the body. Women continue to be human trafficked as they try against all odds to fend for families. Let us address all these issues that have made women so vulnerable yet they have so much untapped potential to turn around the economy.
“There is no way you can take these women out of the streets if we don’t find a solution to all these root causes. So my message to all the women and even men is let us Be Bold for Change because men also need the boldness to accept gender equality.”
BULAWAYO WEST LAWMAKER THABITA KHUMALO:
“On paper a lot has been done, sadly there is no implementation on either gender mainstreaming or equality and it looks like on all issues pertaining to women, we have quick fixes that do not last long and all these quick fixes demobilise the women.
“The time has come for use to be bold enough to demand the changes on paper that have not been implemented.”
MUSASA PROJECT DIRECTOR, NETTY MUSANHU:
“International women’s day is indeed worth celebrating as it provides time and space for reflection on our achievements, successes, challenges and of course our hopes for the future. First it is about appreciating the recognition of this day, celebrating the many strides that have been made especially at the enabling legislative and policy level especially the Constitution which marked a huge milestone in the empowerment of women.
“So indeed there is a lot to celebrate. However, it is also a time to reflect on what the current socio, political and economic situation has seriously impacted on the lives of ordinary women. The shocking levels of gender based violence, limited participation of women in politics and decision making is appalling,” said Musanhu.
She also bemoaned the country’s high maternity mortality ration where more women have continued to die while giving birth due to various avoidable factors.
“Women continue to die whilst giving life, how girsl again started being sacrificed in accessing education because of limited resources, how girls are turning into prostitution in order to survive and high levels of new HIV infections are being recorded in this active group because the prospect of dying of hunger is worse than contracting HIV.
“Therefore, although worth recognition, I’m not sure if at this point in our country we have much to celebrate about.”
TAG A LIFE INTERNATIONAL TRUST DIRECTOR, NYARI MASHAYAMOBE:
“Countries such as Zimbabwe still grapple with many challenges, chief among them financial resources to ensure funding of the implementation of all laws such as the new Constitution, policies and national action plans that seek to improve the lives of women and girls and to eliminate violence and discrimination.
“The Government still suffers setbacks in its national plans to execute best education for all, with the recently launched curriculum seen by many as failing to address in its implementation, the realities of many scholars who come from poor families, and the economic struggles that have been caused by job losses in the current environment in Zimbabwe with more than 90 percent of citizens being unemployed.
“Girls suffer the brunt of lack of access to education and when that happens, there is increase in child marriages, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, child labour, of which these all add up to increase in HIV incidences, poverty among many of their vulnerabilities,” argued Mashayamombe.
ZIMBABWE LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS:
“In Zimbabwe, women continue to face several barriers that hamper their
progress in all spheres of life. While courts have outlawed child marriages, the reluctance by the
government to align marriage laws to bring them into conformity with the Constitution is worrying. There cannot be any justification for the delays in aligning laws to comply with the Constitution to prevent such violations.
“The ongoing humanitarian crisis spawned by massive flooding across the country which left a trail of destruction in Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North province and other areas leaves women bearing the brunt of fending for families.
“It is unacceptable that Zimbabwe still records maternal deaths, 37 years after attaining independence owing to poor health care facilities and neglected personnel.”
As the country commemorates the day, the lawyers called on the Government to ensure alignment of all laws to bring them into conformity with the Constitution, including reviews of economic and financial legislation for more participation and economic empowerment of women.
“The Government should guarantee the rights of women to freedom of association, assembly
and expression without fear of persecution, arrest and intimidation.
“Ratify all outstanding treaties and optional protocols such as the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Enforce the outlawing of child marriages in Zimbabwe.”