Strengthening Women’s Leadership Role in Shaping the Human Rights Agenda


“The Emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, a guarantee of its continuity and a precondition for its victory.” Samora Machel

These words spoken by Samora Machel about the liberation of Africa, remain true of the struggle for human rights in Zimbabwe.

This is why tomorrow, 2 June 2021, we are excited to be launching the handbook ‘Open Up’, an essential resource for all women human rights defenders who seek to go beyond mere participation but to lead the human rights discourse. Those who seek not only to be counted, but rather to increase and influence the count.

The Handbook will be launched in Bulawayo at a gathering of women human rights defenders from the country’s 10 provinces. The launch comes in the backdrop of the ZimRights National Council’s resolution number 08 of 2020 adopted on 12 June 2021.

Resolution number 08/2020 in the post-council communique released on 21 June 2020 reads as follows:

“It was resolved that the National Council takes affirmative action to encourage regional councils to ensure gender parity at all levels. The Secretariat was charged with developing strategies and programmes to ensure women and girls participation and leadership in the human rights agenda as well as visibility in the organisation.

As the National Council out-rightly observed, the role of women and girls in leading the human rights agenda in ZimRights needs to be strengthened to ensure not only visibility of women, but building the capacity of women in Zimbabwe to be able to articulate human rights issues from informed perspective and as champions for human rights. This is in line with  United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

The Resolution is a recognition of the serious impact that violation of human rights have on women, and acknowledgement of the potential of women to contribute to advancing human rights. The Resolution is regarded as one of the most influential documents in this field; it represents a document that established legitimacy and a framework for introducing and advocating gender equality and gender mainstreaming in all sectors and actions related to peace and security.

In October 2020, pursuant to the National Council Resolution, ZimRights introduced the Women, Human Rights and Leadership Action Zone to create space for development of women’s leadership capacities in the human rights discourse. The programme which is led by our National Chairperson Mr. Takesure Musiiwa,  Manicaland Deputy Chairperson Mildred Muzanechita and the entire national leadership seeks to ensure the inclusion and leadership of women in the human rights discourse and create structure generated equality for women in the sector. ZimRights has a long legacy of fighting for human rights. Its grassroots structures in 192 communities are a shining example of what women can do when given the opportunity to lead. Through the new action Zone, ZimRights Women are not going to be waiting in the side-lines. They are stepping forward and leading the discourse. Open Up Handbook is an important took for this exciting journey for every woman who wish to lead the human rights agenda in Zimbabwe.